Ireland came within inches of beating Wales in the closing minutes of a tense Rugby World Cup warmup game in Dublin on Saturday. Wales coach Warren Gatland has since praised tryscorer Justin Tipuric, who contributed to the 16-10 victory.
Both sides scored a try apiece but it was the boot of Leigh Halfpenny, and a late try-saving effort, that kept Wales in front, giving them a much needed boost ahead of the tournament.
The Wales World Cup squad will be announced shortly, and Gatland is aware that he has some tough choices to make, particularly around the loose forwards, where he is spoiled for choice.
“We’re blessed to have two world-class sevens,” Gatland said. “We know what a good footballer Tipuric is when he appears in the wide channels, but sometimes it’s that physicality and competing on the ball [that he has lacked].
“But today he was just brilliant and he was a nuisance and just a proper seven, so we’re very lucky to have the quality we’ve got. It was probably the best performance I’ve seen from him in a big match in the Welsh jersey.”
Regular skipper and number seven Sam Warburton missed the game as a precaution, following a slight shoulder injury he picked up in training.
As Halfpenny showed how valuable a top notch kicker can be in big game rugby, it was his effort over the line on full time that helped towards preventing Sean Cronin from scoring what would have been a potentially match winning try under the sticks.
If you missed it, you can watch highlights below and the full match on page two