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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ireland hold off Welsh comeback to claim win in Six Nations opener

Ireland fought off a determined second half Welsh comeback to win the opening game of the Six Nations championship 30-22 at the Millennium Stadium. The visitors led 30-3 early in the second half and held on thanks to their gutsy defence. 

Despite the big second half effort, it was the defending champions’ eight successive Test match defeat, automatically ruling out the chance of retaining the Grand Slam they achieved last year.

Ireland scored through Simon Zebo, Cian Healy and Brian O’Driscoll, with the Healy try in particular coming about through a great bit of instinctual play by Munster winger Zebo.

Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny and Craig Mitchell scored for Wales in the second half as their superior possession allowed them to launch their comeback and narrow the scoreline, but Ireland held on and can now look forward to hosting England next weekend.

Wales head to France for an unforgiving encounter with the side that are many fans’ favourites for the title. They have many positives to take from the second half but they were always chasing the game after going 30-3 down.

"It was a game of contrasting halves - to score three tries and be on the losing side, you look back and that first 20 minutes was key," said Wales coach Rob Howley. 

At Twickenham England beat Scotland 38-18, while Italy host France in Rome on Sunday.

Posted at 7:03 pm | 40 comments

Posted in Six Nations 2013

Viewing 40 comments

Nick February 03, 2013 12:42 am

good 1st half by ireland but why are wales so inconsistent? they threw the kitchen sink at ireland in the first half. did anyone else think sean o brien was immense in defence?

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TechnoMouse February 03, 2013 12:45 am

Simon Zebo... enough said.

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skay2k February 03, 2013 12:55 am

I was having nightmares of last year where the Welsh took the game in the closing minutes. Definitely one of the better 6N games we've had over the years. Obviously delighted for Ireland to get the win but also really pleased not to get another slug-fest of an opening game.
England-Scotland was great too. Score doesn't necessarily reflect the Scottish performance though.

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WelshOsprey February 03, 2013 1:16 am

I seriously hope the lions management see zebo as nothing more than average because he is nothing special.
Also why are people claiming this game was a classic? It had nothing worth watching unless you love to see terrible reffing and average tries.

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JohnnyEnglishman February 03, 2013 1:33 am

And i wounder were people get the idea that the welsh are bad losers, i guess we will never know.....

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tucktuck February 03, 2013 1:46 am

i wonder haha ,, so what did u think of the game johnny

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tucker February 03, 2013 1:43 am

how was it not a classic ,, it was brilliant game to watch the effort from both side was immense with some crunching tackles with six tries , the never say die attitude of the welsh was great and had everyone on the edge of there seats thinking the welsh were going to pull of a big come back , something close to leinsters come back in 2011 heino cup ,but higher hill to climb ,,bet the welsh beat france

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Andyloughranvet February 03, 2013 10:52 am

As an Irishman, I partly agree. Zebo is great going forward, but he isn't so hot in defence. Tbh, if Bowe, Luke Fitzgerald, Gilroy & Zebo are all fit, I'd have him bottom of the pile. yes he's exciting going forward, but not yet the as good an all round player as others.

My only gripe is when is Kidney going to waken up to the fact that Keith earls is not international standard centre. Darren Cave & Ferguson McFadden are far better options there esp McFadden at inside centre. Hell, I'd have played BOD at 12, Sexton at 13 & then Madigan at 10 when Darcy was injured. DK needs to waken up a wee bit.

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gerrymentle February 03, 2013 2:58 pm

You'd put Luke before Zebo wow. One thing I would agree Luke would have over run that ball from Healip no matter how crap the pass was , would he have had the natural instinct to do what Zebo did, I think not. Luke Fitzgerald has been overrated for years. Zebo's only starting out and defensive mistakes aside (remember Tommy Bowe when he started out) He's probably the most naturally talented footballer we have. He's a long way to go though. Hope his Pa can keep him well grounded and not let him wear fancy coloured boots. Oh yeah, Earls shouldn't be on the park., he's a liability to the team. If we lines up against England with Manu Tuilagi coming back into the side, we're goosed.

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hedderball February 06, 2013 10:35 pm

totally agree about Earls - would definitely go with Darren Cave at 12. He's been so solid for Ulster this season. He might not be the most electrifying runner but then again when did Darce last make a meaningful line break for Ireland

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DrG February 04, 2013 1:02 am

Wow... that is a bit extreme.. So you're stating that an average player was fundamental in beating Wales?

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papachino February 04, 2013 1:20 pm

I agree with the refereeing, without Romain Poite, the Welsh would have lost that game 60-6...
As for Zebo, he's great going forward but in a tight game, Bowe Gilroy Fitzgerald Trimble and McFadden are all ahead of him.

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toc85 February 04, 2013 10:08 pm

haha ya sure mate, obviously an expert!! Ya terrible reffing for carding Best, good point osprey.

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ClassicGav February 05, 2013 2:23 pm

Ha you obviously never played rugby to have such a low appreciation of that match! Also refereeing mistakes? Point them out?...Idiot stop listening to bias commentators. I agree Zebo is not yet lions standard but he made a knob of cuthbert, so unless cuthbert is worse than average that's fine.

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ciaranbrk February 05, 2013 10:11 pm

sour grapes or what? Credit where it is due as all Irish fans did after the RWC 2011 quarter where Wales beat Ireland they were the better team that day. Ireland were Saturday and if having a go and back healing the ball into your hand while the ball goes behind you is average and consistently scoring hatricks is average then I cant wait till he reaches his peek.

By the way I am a Leinster fan and Zebo this year has been a revelation for Munster and was brilliant for Ireland so far. His commitment to defense against heaver opponent's was inspiring. He threw his body on the line in defense as did the entire Irish side during waves and waves of Welsh onslaught. I know you don't want to hear this but I was so impressed by Wales determination to come back and have a go.

And the Game was classic because it was the classic tale of two half and wales didn't give up the stormed back terrible reffing is right wales should have seen two yellow cards for professional fouls on there try line first half but Poite didn't give them because it would have killed the game off for Wales.

The only reason you are not calling it a classic is because your side didn't come out on top. That is the only reason, from a neutrals perspective it was a classic because of the will to have a go throw caution to the wind, free flow rugby. Well that is what I gathered from most neutrals who have posted on other sites.

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Ottawa Rugger February 03, 2013 5:26 am

Anyone else see the rake on Sexton's face in the ruck? Only saw one slow-mo during the game, didn't see enough to call it intentional or not. Wondering what you all think. I'm crowd sourcing, if you will.

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Reality February 03, 2013 12:57 pm

Yeah, I saw it too. When I heard somebody screaming blue murder and holding his hands to his face, I started to think that something wasn't quite right, and then the replay showed him getting his faced stamped on. The commentators seemed to just ignore it though.

I too would like to know if it was intentional or not. I don't see how it couldn't have been intentional, because the ruck had already been set and nobody in it was moving, so the grounds for calling it an accident seem quite unfounded.

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Mighty Ape February 03, 2013 2:16 pm

It didn't look intentional. Tipuric was in the ruck and trying to push forward when he caught Sextons face. Don't know how he could have known his head was there.

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doyler February 06, 2013 12:32 pm

I agree, I don't think that incident was intentional. However, there were a lot of other incidents of stamping which clearly were. I thought some of the welsh rucking in the second half was 'overenthusiastic', to say the least.

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Schultz February 03, 2013 3:43 pm

I saw it too, there were a fair few rakes that were either on the head area or close to it, but most of the time you couldn't see who it was and the ref missed all of them.
On top of that, Phillips spent most of his time going out of his way to rake people oddly, when there was something in the way he seemed not to bother......
It just confirms that he is big and not that great, and when things don't go his way he gets dirty.
The ref was truly shocking though, I don't recall a 50/50 call that went Ireland's way, and the 2 yellows were questionable penalties if you ask me.

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Facepalm February 03, 2013 4:22 pm

There was so much stamping in the rucks. From both sides. I've never understood how sometimes it is legal but other times it's deemed worthy of a ban. If someone could explain it would be much appreciated.

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Andyloughranvet February 03, 2013 10:55 am

Also, did anyone else think that Rory Brst didn't come in at the side for his yellow card? I thought Poite was v inconsistent in his refereeing yday. But what else do u expect from RP.

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TomTom February 03, 2013 11:33 am

I have to agree here. He was very harsh to both side at times for very questionable calls. Best got a yellow yet welsh players doing the same were passed off. He claimed it was the 4th infraction of that type but from what I was watching I have my doubts.

I still don't know what Murray did for his yellow but Ireland were minus a man for the last 20 minutes of that match and had a successions of calls in the second half against them, many very questionable, with so many people both sides of the fence calling him a bad ref I wonder why he keeps getting big international matches.

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Reality February 03, 2013 11:08 pm

Yeah, the two of them were a bit odd. Firstly, Best's was just ridiculous, because Poite's call was 'in from the side', but he clearly came through the gate, so the call doesn't make sense.

Then for Murray's, maybe there's a call to be made for being offside, but Poite says that he played the ball on the ground. But that was simply not true, because he had slapped the scrumhalf's arm to knock the ball out of his grasp. Nothing happened on the ground.

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Cluainoir February 03, 2013 11:44 am

Mr poite has to be the worst ref on he circuit. How many penalties did wales concede especially in the first half and no sign of a yellow card. At one stage wales played a ball from the base of a ruck 8 seconds after he had called for them to play it, Sean O'Brien was penalised for a late tackle when he was clearly commited and yes Best had come in from the gate. They are just a few examples of what a terrible ref that man is, i have yet to see him have a good game as an official, maybe he should concentrate more on growing his beard.

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McG February 03, 2013 11:53 am

Andyloughranvet couldnt agree more about Keith Earls he just doesnt cut it disagree abot Fergus McF dont think he cuts the mustard. Sean obrien was immense yesterday as was Rory Best in open play. There could have being 2 or 3 Welsh Yellow Cards in !st half. Jared Payne to replace BOD at 13 when he Qualifies????

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Andyloughranvet February 03, 2013 1:26 pm

How about BOD 12 & Cave 13. Or Luke Marshall at 12. Yes that's a big call, but we need to find a replacement fir D'Arcy.

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McG February 04, 2013 11:36 pm

I would love to see Cave given a shot but dont think Kidney will look at him. Luke Marshall i think has a better shot a being selected at 12. Would love to see McSharry given a chance but that wont happen. Earls will be picked in squads as paddy wallace was for his versatility its a joke

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Colombes February 03, 2013 12:04 pm

Great to see that Ireland will have a word to say in this 6N. Next WE match vs England should be a classic

Their 1st half was perfect in term of control and skills, the 2nd half also showed their actual weakness, lack of power in the mauls and breakdowns. The absence of O'Connell and Ferris was visible.

On Wales, got the impression that this team has lost Gatland gameplan, playing without rythme and be too much penalised. Their pride in attack seems to be their only weapon, a bit short to wish good results

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Laighin February 03, 2013 2:51 pm

Anyone else think Cuthbert is over rated? His defence is awful, does not have a clue what to do off the ball,. True he can be devastating in attack, but for both Cardiff and Wales I have seen him make some awful defensive errors. As well as this I cannot understand why Wales don't drop Warburton and start Tipurc, he could easily start at 7 for the lions.

For Ireland, I really hope Kidney does not put Earls anywhere near the centre against England... We need to get Luke Marshall fast tracked into the side, he looks the real deal at provincial level, definetely the long term successor to D'Arcy!

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rugby08 February 05, 2013 8:44 am

Completely agree about Cuthbert, i also feel that Roberts, Davies are overrated to hell as well

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eoghain February 03, 2013 4:48 pm

I agree with the earls part he should be left for the wing but with only ROG on the bench kidney had no choice, earls has no vision attacking and doesn't seem to know which channels to defend at 12/13.
Zebo is a talented attacker and if he wasnt on the pitch ireland wouldnt have scored two of there 3 trys, BOD made the first try but other wingers like bowe and Fitzgerald wouldnt have been in the positions or had the balls to try a heel flick, his defense is suspect at times but yesterday he held his own and even shut down a 3 on 1 overlap but hitting and stopping the welsh by coming up early.

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memberbenefits February 04, 2013 2:21 pm

Hang on a second. Are you saying that Fitz or Bowe wouldn't have been on the wing to run in the Zebo try? You're having a laugh.

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tompaschal February 03, 2013 5:08 pm

Agree on patchy ref also failed to miss blatant blocking for first welsh try seems all teams now playing american football with blockers at every opportunity.

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Ottawa Rugger February 04, 2013 4:00 am

Saw that too. Looked like a "meaningfull" interference whether deliberate or not, so I think that should have been called back.

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guest February 03, 2013 5:16 pm

At 4:22 a Ireland fan leans in to kiss the welsh fan he is sitting next to on the cheek. The Welsh fans responds with a slap. haha.

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tucktuck February 06, 2013 1:11 am

they great a few laughs out of that slap if they played it on soccerAm ,, there should be a rugby am ,, the aussie do the weekly round ups but there like 5 min long ,, way more great stuff goes on at each rugby game around europe than in the premiership and other leagues

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Mastersa February 03, 2013 8:04 pm

A great opening game only mildly ruined by poite who let everything go in the first half to give a great free flowing game then to only saw green in the second half. Best yellow (poite) and O'Brien late tackle (linesman) fairly questionable at key moments.
Sean O'Brien injury break has done him no harm. Could be looking at player of this championship if he keeps that up.

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DrG February 04, 2013 1:05 am

I found this game was a lot quicker moving than games of past, and one thing I noticed was the use of the boot... Coincidence? I don't think so...

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