World Rugby

Guinness Six Nations: Ireland Downs Wales To Keep Grand Slam Hopes Alive

Guinness Six Nations: Ireland Downs Wales To Keep Grand Slam Hopes Alive

Ireland defeated Wales 31-7 at the Aviva Stadium in the 2024 Guinness Six Nations. Andy Farrell's team remains undefeated heading into Round 4.

Feb 24, 2024 by Philip Bendon
Guinness Six Nations: Ireland Downs Wales To Keep Grand Slam Hopes Alive

Andy Farrell’s Ireland kept its Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam hopes alive, downing Wales 31-7 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

Scoring four tries against their fierce rivals normally would equate to a great evening’s work for the men in green; however, such is the standard this team has set that it felt somewhat underwhelming.

Much of the credit must go to Warren Gatland’s young Welsh side, which battled hard against its much-fancied opponents from the off.

Facing wave after wave of green attack, Wales stood fast for the opening 20 minutes, with the exception of a Jack Crowley penalty.

Dominating possession and territory, Ireland eventually made its pressure tell, as hooker Dan Sheehan barged over the opening try of the match in the 21st minute.

Ten minutes after the opening score, winger James Lowe finished off some slick handling from the Irish to touch down in the corner.

Heading into the break with a 17-0 lead, Ireland was in full control without really taking all of its opportunities.

As the second half got underway, there was an almost immediate shift in momentum, as Wales ripped into the hosts.

Taking just two minutes to get its irst score, Wales pummeled the Irish maul, with Tadhg Beirne separating his bind. That resulted in a potential try being held up.

Left with little choice, referee Andrea Piardi sent Beirne to the sin bin before signaling a penalty try for Wales.

Dominating possession and territory for the next 20 minutes, Wales showed glimpses of its potential but couldn’t quite create enough attacking shape to truly trouble Ireland.

Separated by just 10 points heading into the final 15 minutes, it still very much was all to play for.

As if written in the stars, fullback Ciaran Frawley, on his first start in green, took a scintillating pass from Jamison Gibson-Park to go over untouched.

Now playing with some breathing space, Ireland finished with a flourish, as Tadhg Beirne made up for his yellow card with what would be the bonus-point try in the 81st minute.

Speaking after the -match, Warren Gatland said he was proud of his team’s efforts. 

"We showed some great heart and character today," Gatland said. "I thought the scoreline probably isn't right, but it probably reflects where the two sides are in terms of that experience. 

We've played against one of the best teams in the world. Eight or nine of their team are over 30 and have been around for a while. 

"I think we take a huge amount from this. It's the players that will have got the most out of today.

"I have no doubt where we're going; this team is going to be an excellent team going forward when we get some more experience."

Focusing on his opponents, Gatland said he felt Ireland now was in pole position to go on and achieve history as the first back-to-back Grand Slam winner.

"I think they're definitely capable of doing it," Gatland said. "They've got the experience and the composure. Players who can carry and get them on the front foot. I think they'll be a hard team to knock over."

Next up for Ireland is a clash with England at Twickenham; Steve Borthwick’s side will enter the clash fresh off a 31-20 loss to Scotland at Murrayfield.

Closing out Round 4, Wales will tackle France at the Principality Stadium. Depending on tomorrow’s match with Italy, France still could be in with a chance at chasing down Ireland in the championship.

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