Ireland start WC Warm ups with big Wales win

Ireland got their preparations for the Rugby World Cup off to a flying
start by thumping Wales 21-35 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The match sent out an early warning to Ireland’s rivals ahead of the World
Cup but the result was tempered by a serious looking injury to Irish flanker
Tommy O’Donnell.

Both head coaches put out second string sides but it was Joe Schmidt’s reserves
who impressed, racing into an 18-point lead at half-time thanks to three tries
from Jamie Heaslip, Darren Cave and the impressive Keith Earls.

Simon Zebo and Felix Jones added further scores after the break to enhance
Ireland’s credentials as one of the pre-tournament favourites for this autumn’s
World Cup.

The defeat leaves Wales head coach Warren Gatland with plenty to ponder before
they face Schmidt’s men for a second time in Dublin in three weeks.

Tries from Richard Hibbard, Justin Tipuric and a late score from Alex Cuthbert
were rare high points for the home side, with few players putting in performances
to suggest they should be in Gatland’s final 31-strong squad.

“Ireland had a lot of experience and that showed in the end,” home
captain Scott Williams told BBC One Wales.

“I was happy with the way we finished the game.”

“It is the first time we have played together as a team and it was a big

Ireland had Wales on the back foot from the beginning and when Williams failed
to clear from a scrum in his own 22 after just eight minutes, they turned the
ball over and sent Heaslip into the corner for the game’s opening try.

Visiting captain Heaslip was one of two players remaining from the side who
started their last match of the Six Nations against Scotland in March and he
was in superb form early on.

Outside-half Paddy Jackson nudged Ireland further in front with a penalty as
the visitors took full control of the contest.

Earls was held up over the try-line by a superb tackle from Hibbard after breezing
past Williams in midfield but Ireland got their second score from the resulting

A simple short ball from Eoin Reddan to centre Cave put the Ulster man over
from close range.

Cave’s provincial teammate Andrew Trimble set up their third try after half
an hour with a thumping tackle on debutant Eli Walker, allowing Earls to scoop-up
the loose ball and race clear to go under the posts.

Williams saved Wales’ blushes with a try-saving tackle on Trimble shortly afterwards
before the home support finally had something to cheer about two minutes before
the interval when Hibbard touched down from a well-worked set piece.

Wales’ hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow five minutes into the second half
when another debutant, flanker Ross Moriarty, was shown a yellow card for a
dangerous swinging arm.

Three minutes later, Ireland scored their fourth try when they went through
the phases to work enough room to send Zebo over near to the touchline.

The visitors were cutting open the home defence at will and it was no surprise
when Jones grabbed their fifth try after 53 minutes, finishing off a fine move
in the corner.

Wales rallied with 20 minutes left on the clock and Chris Henry was sent to
the sin bin for the visitors just five minutes after replacing Heaslip following
repeated infringements from the Irish.

It allowed Wales to get their second try 10 minutes from the end, with Tipuric
putting the finishing touch on a lovely move involving young talents Hallam
Amos and Tyler Morgan.

New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe kicked the conversion for his first points
for Wales on his debut.

Cuthbert then scored with the last move of the game to add a bit more respectability
to the score-line for the home side, with Anscombe adding a se

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