Six Nations Game 3 - Wales vs Ireland (9-19)
The Irish made a dream start with Hooker Rory Best [left] going over in the corner in the first minute. The conversion went wide, but it fired up the men in green and Wales had to sit up and take notice.
There was some fast and furious passing with plenty of ground being made on both sides. Wales seemed to have a good spell but didn't manage to turn in any points apart from Stephen Jones' penalties.
Brian O'Driscoll [right] finished off a great phase of play to score in the corner, dragging a couple of Welsh tacklers with him over the line. Great strength!
Ireland went in 3 points up at the break, 9-12.
Early in the second half, rookie Welsh winger Chris Czekaj [left] was denied in the corner, by an early tackle from an Irish defender, but the ref awarded a scrum to Ireland (Czekaj having lost the ball forward), and the Irish came off lucky.
The two teams put each other under pressure for spells in the second half. Wales made a break from a slightly fumbled Irish lineout, and made good headway up the pitch, but lost it forward and gave away a scrum.
Shortly after, Ronan O'Gara made a big break, but it ultimately came to nothing. One worry was O'Driscoll pulling up with a hamstring tweak, but he was back on his feet soon after.
They kept the tempo up. Ireland's forwards kept pounding the Welsh defence, but were turned over and Wales made some great ground. James Hook's attempted drop goal fell just short, which was a great pity as they deserved the points for their persistence.
At one point, Denis Hickey went off the field with blood pouring down his face, having caught a stud in the head. But a few stitches later, he was back on wearing a scrum cap and running round like nothing had happened.
Ireland's forwards continued to pound the Welsh defence, coming up just short of the tryline. They got another chance with a scrum but Wales won a vital turnover. The clearance kick came back into Irish hands and the green advanced again. Eventually, O'Gara managed another brilliant score in the corner, and managed to convert his own from way out wide.
The Welsh immediately hit back from a lineout, and Czekaj almost made it to the line, but was just bundled into touch just short. A few furious minutes from both sides, but they couldn't put any more points on the board.
I felt sorry for the Welsh, everyone played their hearts out for the full 80 minutes, but Ireland were just that little bit luckier when it mattered. Great game, even though there was only the one score in the second half.
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