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Ireland Hold Off Wales in Cardiff

Ireland withstood a Welsh fightback to secure a vital win in their World Cup warm-ups

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(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Ireland held off a Welsh comeback to secure a 22-17 victory in the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Two Jacob Stockdale tries along with a penalty try saw the Irish build a 22-3 lead with 22 minutes left on the clock, but a Rhys Patchell led fight-back from Wales left got them back within touching distance late on.

Both teams had a decent start with Wales dominating possession however although they couldn’t make that count as Ireland got the scoreboard ticking with a Jack Carty penalty.

On 16 minutes they were all even as Jarrod Evans popped over a penalty from straight in front of the posts.

Two minutes on and the Irish were in for the first try of the game as a Carty offload allowed Andrew Conway to break through the Welsh defence. He raced all the way to the five-metre line before passing out left for Stockdale to touchdown.

Man of the match Carty struck the conversion beautifully from the touchline to make it 10-3 in the away side’s favour.

Evans had a chance to cut the lead but missed from a penalty on 26 minutes.

That proved costly as two minutes on and a poor offload from Aaron Shingler left the ball bouncing on the ground. Stockdale didn’t need a second invitation to pounce, kicking ahead, picking the ball up and racing over for his second try of the game.

Carty missed the resulting conversion along with a penalty from the Welsh ten metre line on the stoke of half-time to leave the score at 15-3 when the whistle blew.

Wales failed to make possession count in the first five minutes of the second half and for the next quarter of an hour Ireland camped inside the home side’s 22.

Ireland were dominant in the scrum and their pressure led to a yellow card for Wales’ substitute tighthead Leon Brown on 51 minutes.

With Wales down to 14 Ireland continued to pressurise them and with 58 minutes on the clock Roman Poite awarded a penalty try as the lead was pushed out to 19 points.

After then Wales dominated, hitting back with a try six minutes later through Owen Lane, who showed great feet to finish in the right corner. Patchell converted and suddenly it looked like a comeback could be on.

It was Patchell who set up a nervy finish to the game by closing a few minutes of Welsh pressure in the Irish 22 by stepping inside Garry Ringrose and diving over for a try just left of the posts.

His conversion made it a five-point game with four minutes on the clock. However, Ireland managed to weather the storm and see out the game 22-17.

It was the first time Ireland have defeated Wales on home soil since August four years ago, again in the lead up to the World Cup and will leave the squad much happier following their demolition at the hands of England last weekend while Wales will be disappointed not to have won in Warren Gatland’s final home game.

The two teams meet again next weekend in the Aviva Stadium, by which time both will have named their 31-man squads to travel to the World Cup in Japan next month, and it is expected the pair will name full strength teams in their final warm-up games ahead of the tournament.

Player Ratings:

Wales:

Hallam Amos (6), Owen Lane (7), Scott Williams (5), Owen Watkin (5), Steff Evans (6), Jarrod Evans (5), Aled Davies(7); Rhys Carre (6) , Ryan Elias (6), Samson Lee (7), Adam Beard (6), Bradley Davies (6), Aaron Shingler (5), James Davies (6), Josh Navidi (7)

Replacements (7)

Ireland:

Will Addison (6), Andrew Conway (8), Chris Farrell (6), Bundee Aki (8), Jacob Stockdale (8), Jack Carty (9), Kieran Marmion (7); Dave Kilcoyne (7), Niall Scannell (7), John Ryan (6), Iain Henderson (7), James Ryan (7), Tadhg Beirne (6), Peter O’Mahony (7), Jack Conan (6)

Replacements (7)

6 Nations

Sexton to Miss Northampton Return Game

Leinster fly-half Johnny Sexton is set to miss this weekend’s home game against Northampton Saints and there are further injury concerns for the Irish province

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Leinster have confirmed that out-half Johnny Sexton will not feature in this weekend’s return fixture against the Northampton Saints in the Champions Cup.

The Irish-star went down awkwardly in a tackle early in the second-half of Saturday’s 43-16 victory over the Saints and was replaced by Ross Byrne immediately and will now see a specialist later today for further scans on the injury. 

The 34-year-olds fitness uncertainty will come as a massive concern for new Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, with the Six Nations edging closer and with him set to take charge of his first training camp before the New Year. 

As well as his skill-set, many expect Sexton to take over the captaincy from recently retired Rory Best, with his experience being a key component to the Irish side. 

The good news for his province is that Ross Byrne has been in fine form so far this season after his Rugby World Cup omission from the Irish squad and has back-up from younger brother Harry as well as Ciaran Frawley, with Ross likely to take the starting spot this weekend. 

However, Leinster will be without backs Joe Tomane and Rory O’Loughlin this weekend, with the former set to be side-lined for up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury following a brilliant opening to the season, while the latter is suffering from a shoulder problem. 

In the forwards James Ryan is undergoing the return to play protocols after taking a knock to the head during Saturday’s win. 

Leinster and Ireland will hope that Sexton makes a speedy recovery, but for the boys in blue their eyes will be firmly set on this weekend’s fixture which could see them all but qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition and they will want to continue their perfect start to the season with an incredible 10 wins from 10.

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International

All Blacks Players’ Player of the Year Confirmed

The All Blacks have had an off-colour year compared to their usual high standards but there were some stand-out performers and the players have cast their vote on their player of the year

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(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

New Zealand back-rower Ardie Savea has been announced as the All Blacks Players’ Player of the Year for 2019.

The nation as a whole were disappointed with their year having lost out on the Rugby Championship and failing to retain their Rugby World Cup crown, with their rivals South Africa claiming both. 

However, despite all the downsides there were some stand-out performances and Savea has stood out among his peers for his showings this year beating fellow teammates Beauden Barrett, Kieran Read, Codie Taylor and Anton Lienert-Brown to the award. 

It brings Savea’s year to a bright ending after also being pipped to the World Player of the Year award by Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit last month. Although Savea will miss a chunk of the 2020 season having confirmed he will undergo surgery on a knee problem which will leave him side-lined for between four to six months.

Sevu Reece was handed the Players’ Super Rugby Player of the Year after finishing top of the try-scoring charts with the Crusaders

Meanwhile, in the women’s voting Charmaine McMenamin came out on top as the Players’ International Player of the Year. 

The New Zealand Rugby 2019 awards take place on Thursday with both Savea and McMenamin up for the Player of the Year award going up against Beauden Barrett and Lienert-Brown, and Black Ferns’ Kendra Cocksedge and Ayesha Leti-l’iga respectively.

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International

Cooper Talks About Kneeing McCaw in the Head

Quade Cooper has opened up on his career to date and in particular his controversial knee to Richie McCaw

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(Photo by CHRISTIAAN KOTZE/AFP/Getty Images)

Australia’s Quade Cooper has opened up on when he kneed former All Black Richie McCaw in the head and the backlash he received.

Cooper, a New Zealand-born Wallabies player, was talking on the Ice Project podcast with Isaac John about his rugby career to date and owned up to his “dirty” knee to McCaw’s head in a game leading up to the Rugby World Cup in 2011, admitting he apologised to the All Blacks legend years later.

“A few years later I’ve seen Richie in the airport and I went up to him and said, ‘Sorry about that’. It’s not that he didn’t care or he did care but, when I said sorry to him, I confronted it and said, ‘I really looked up to you as a kid, you were my idol, everyone in New Zealand loves you and I loved you, so when I played against you it was just emotion, passion took over, you were playing dirty on me and I kneed you. He’s one of the best at [dirty play],” he said.

The incident caused uproar among fans and the now veteran Wallaby, who has 70-caps to his name confirmed that he wasn’t ready for the backlash he received and how he couldn’t even go out.

“I look back at it now and I wasn’t ready for it. I had the expectation of 2011 of playing good football but now I had the pressure of all these guys hating me as well, and a whole country, not just the rugby public. I couldn’t go anywhere. I was on the team bus and there were signs ‘I hope you break your leg, I hope you die in this game’. If I had my time again, [because] I know how to handle it now, I’d just say, ‘Yeah I did it, so what?’. Not ‘So what?’, but ‘It’s part of footy, it was a bad play but I did it’, so what could people say?” he added.

In the end McCaw got the last laugh, going on to win the Rugby World Cup with New Zealand later that year.

Cooper’s career has had its ups and downs since, but he is now starting a new chapter in Japan with the Kintetsu Liners in the second-division where he will be hoping to stay out of the limelight.

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