Five-star Ireland thrash Wales in Rugby World Cup warm-up – Photos
Six Nations champions begin their preparations for next month's showpiece in style as experimental side win 35-21 in Cardiff
Ireland got their Rugby World Cup preparations off to a perfect start with a convincing 35-21 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
With both sides fielding experimental sides ahead of squad cuts next week, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt faces a tougher weekend after several fringe players put their hands up for selection.
For Wales and Warren Gatland, there were few stand-out names in a rusty performance thwarted by handling errors and poor decision-making against an opposition dominant at the set-piece and breakdown, as well as showing a clinical edge when try-scoring chances arrived.
Here are some of the best photos from the action.
Poor defence from Wales allows Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip to cruise in for the game’s opening try.
A dominant Ireland scrum anchored by Leinster’s Mike Ross on his 50th international appearance and more poor defending paves the way for Ireland’s second as Ulster centre Darren Cave slides over near the posts.
Man of the match Keith Earls terrorises Wales on his first international appearance in over two years and the Munster centre runs on to a loose ball and races away to score a third as Ireland rack up a 22-0 lead.
After Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson makes it 25-0 with a simple penalty, Wales hit back with a creative effort from a five-metre lineout with Gloucester hooker Richard Hibbard getting Wales on the board.
Ospreys winger Eli Walker almost makes it a superb end to an otherwise disappointing first half for Wales as he latches on to a grubber kick, but the ball slips out of his hands at the last second. No debut try. Half-time Wales 7-25 Ireland.
Gloucester flanker Ross Moriarty is sin-binned in the second half of his Wales debut for a swinging arm that makes contact with Simon Zebo’s head.
Patient play from Ireland with Wales down to 14 men sees Zebo get Ireland’s fourth try in the corner in clinical fashion.
The Munster backs continue to run riot in the second half and full-back Felix Jones gets in on the try-scoring fun.
With 10 minutes to go Justin Tipuric finishes off a superb counter-attacking move for Wales involving Newport Gwent Dragons youngsters Tyler Morgan and Hallam Amos. Cardiff Blues out-half Gareth Anscombe adds the extras on his debut.
Tommy O’Donnell’s afternoon, and possibly his Rugby World Cup dreams, end early after a late injury required a stretcher.