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Ireland 31-7 Wales: Hosts make it three wins from three with Welsh victory

IRELAND’S grand ambition for a successive Six Nations Grand Slam glimmered brighter after a commanding 31-7 triumph over Wales in the thrilling Round 3 encounter at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. The Irish side, undeterred and dynamic, orchestrated a performance that encapsulated their dominance in the tournament thus far, securing a bonus-point victory that keeps their Grand Slam dreams vividly alive.

In a game that showcased Ireland’s tactical acumen and resilience, hooker Dan Sheehan, wing James Lowe, full-back Ciaran Frawley, and lock Tadhg Beirne emerged as the heroes, each crossing the whitewash to contribute to the emphatic scoreline. Jack Crowley, the out-half, was impeccable, converting all attempts at goal, including a penalty and four conversions, ensuring a flawless day with the boot.

Wales, despite trailing 17-0 by the halftime whistle, showed moments of resurgence with a penalty try that saw Beirne sin-binned. However, their efforts to claw back into the game were thwarted by a relentless Irish defence, leaving them winless after three rounds.

The victory marks a historic 18th consecutive win for Ireland at the Aviva Stadium and ties the record for an 11th successive Six Nations Test win, a testament to their continued excellence and a milestone shared with England’s streak from 2015 to 2017.

The match unfurled with Ireland asserting their dominance early on, rewarded with a penalty kick by Crowley following a high tackle on Lowe. Despite Wales’ formidable maul defence, Ireland’s persistence paid dividends with Sheehan’s try, courtesy of a powerful forward push and Crowley’s subsequent conversion enhancing their lead.

Wales’ captain, Dafydd Jenkins, found himself penalised, and Ireland opted for ambition over assurance, a decision that paid off when Lowe spectacularly finished in the corner, further extended by Crowley’s masterful conversion.

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The Welsh side’s resolve was evident in their defensive efforts, yet Ireland’s strategic prowess shone through. Despite a penalty try awarded to Wales, Ireland’s control and execution remained unshaken, with their defence repelling Welsh advances effectively.

The narrative of the second half encapsulated Ireland’s capacity to absorb pressure and retaliate, highlighted by Frawley’s try in his first Test start and Beirne’s clinching score, underlining their depth and tactical intelligence.

Post-match reflections from both camps acknowledged the intensity of the encounter. Ireland’s head coach, Andy Farrell, praised the team’s adaptability and highlighted the need for review, particularly concerning penalties. Warren Gatland, Wales’ head coach, commended his team’s effort and identified physicality as a key area for growth.

Ciaran Frawley, reveling in the joy of his maiden Test start and try, underscored the team’s resilience and the collective drive that propelled them to overcome adversity and secure a significant victory.

This clash was more than a game; it was a testament to Ireland’s relentless pursuit of excellence and a stark reminder of the challenges that lie ahead in their quest for back-to-back Grand Slams. As the tournament progresses, Ireland’s blend of tactical brilliance, physical dominance, and unwavering spirit makes them formidable contenders, setting the stage for an enthralling conclusion to the Six Nations saga.

Jack Crowley registered the first points of the day via a penalty
Ireland's Dan Sheehan celebrates after scoring their first try via a driving maul
James Lowe scored Ireland's second first-half try, after taking a superb Calvin Nash offload
Wales hit back through a penalty try decision early in the second half
Ireland's defence proved superb when under pressure in the second half
Full-back Ciaran Frawley crossed for Ireland's third try on his first Test start

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell told ITV Sport said: “There is a famous saying that each game takes it’s own course and that game had a bit of everything really from the sublime to the ridiculous.

“I thought we were a bit passive in the first half but I thought Wales were tenacious in defence. I thought we should have capitalised more.

“We had a good chat at half-time. The penalty count was evened up, we will have a good luck at that.

“Delighted to get that bonus point.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said after the game: “I can’t question how hard and the effort from the players. They probably out muscled us a bit in terms of collisions. That is a lesson for us.

“I feel like the score-line blew out a bit and probably wasn’t reflective of the effort we put in.

“You are playing against one of the best teams in the world and they thoroughly deserved to win with the quality they have got. We are on a journey.”

Try-scorer Ciaran Frawley after his first Test start said added: “Look, it was a bit of clunky in the first half.

“We were aware of that at half time. It was probably not the start we wanted, they came out and scored and we got the yellow card but to bounce back through all the adversity thrown at us and get the bonus point win was pretty special.

“I was delighted to get over. The players here are unbelievable, they know how to win.”

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