Albeit a very poor Wales B team, this was a performance that should restore the confidence in both the Ireland dressing room and with the supporters.
The first half was full of writing the wrongs of the previous week, Ireland played with poise and intent, and limited their mistakes in a huge way by wining their own lineouts and missing just 4 tackles in the first half at the Principality Stadium.
One man looking to get onto the World Cup plane is David Kilcoyne who’s strong ball carrying skills were aplenty in the first half and the prop put in clinical tackles that were executed like a guy that wanted it. Fantastic energy from the Limerick man.
It was Killer’s ball-carrying off a well-executed lineout that saw him get the ball to Andrew Conway, who gave Stockdale loads of space on the outside to get Ireland’s first try.
A few minutes later, a poor Welsh pass found Stockdale’s feet, which he kicked and ran onto a perfect bounce to get his second try of the game and 16th International Try overall, joining Ronan O’Gara on the All-time Ireland list.
The Second half saw a couple of changes, Dave Kearney replaced Stockdale, while Kilcoyne (who went off to have a HIA) was replaced by Andrew Porter.
Will Addison left the field of play as a blood sub, was briefly replaced by Gary Ringrose (who took to the wing) later returned to play. Addison was very prominent throughout and brought a calm approach in fullback and showed his explosiveness when he ran with the ball.
Joe Schmidt rang in further changes when Rory Best, Devin Toner and Tadgh Furlong took to the field. Ireland parked down on the Welsh 22 for a long period of the second half, like a mobile home in Ballybunion earned themselves a penalty try after 57 minutes. Converted by Carty, Ireland looked home and hosed.
But this Wales side full of fresh faces began to gather some momentum and a try from Owen Lane with Patchell nailing the conversion brought them within 12 points. Patchell was a game-changer in the second half and converted a try of his own with 5 minutes to go, changed the complexion of the second half by himself.
Wales were all out gunning for the converted try with just 4 minutes to go, wanting to get the win for Warren. Gatland’s final home game as the Head Coach. But Ireland closed it out in what was a nervy finish having conceded two converted tries at the closing stage of the game. 17-22 the final score.
A mention for Jack Carty who organised things very well, particularly for the first 50 minutes. A man of the match performance from the Connacht flyhalf can only help his cause for a seat on the plane to Japan.
Ireland needed this win more than Wales. They controlled the first half, played with confidence and the back three of Stockdale, Conway and Addison was an impressive trio in my opinion. Overall, our scrum and lineout outperformed last weeks poor effort, which is positive, along with good play at the set-piece.
This has to give Joe Schmidt food for thought. Next Saturday will be Ireland’s last warm-up game ahead of RWC 2019. Both starting XV’s likely to change in a few positions, particular in Gatland’s side at Aviva Stadium.
One can only hope that today’s positive result can reverb throughout the camp ahead of that clash in Dublin.
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