Sunday, October 9, 2011


Ireland were knocked out of the World Cup yesterday by Wales 22-10.
On the day Wales just proved too strong and a couple of Irish defensive lapses in the second half allowed Warren Gatland's men break into a match-winning lead.

Ireland lacked composure at times and lost a number of battles in key areas of the pitch, although they did well to recover from the concession of Shane Williams' early converted try.

Sean O'Brien was held up over the try-line and Wales survived a furious Irish onslaught in their 22 before Ronan O'Gara opened Ireland's account with a 23rd minute penalty.

With Sam Warburton helping Wales slow up Irish ruck ball, the men in red were able to keep ahead on the scoreboard and a long range penalty from Leigh Halfpenny made it 10-3 for the interval.

This fired-up Irish side got on the front foot early in the second half, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe doing supremely well to set up Keith Earls for his fifth try of the tournament.
Earls did brilliantly to go in low at the left corner past Mike Phillips' despairing tackle and television match official Giulio De Santis confirmed the grounding. O'Gara followed up with an excellent conversion and suddenly the sides were level.

Wales' young guns were not to be denied though, Jamie Roberts carrying with great intent in midfield and their forwards maintaining a high work-rate.

Gordon D'Arcy and Tommy Bowe were outmanoeuvred by man-of-the-match Phillips close to the left touchline as the wily scrum half broke down the short side of a ruck and squeezed over for a try in the corner.
Rhys Priestland, who impressed once again at out-half, missed the conversion and struck a post with a 58th minute penalty as the scoreline stuck at 15-10.
Ireland were still very much in contention with Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell leading by example, but increasingly the Irish attacks were coming from deep and Wales were beginning to dominate territory.

Priestland helped to pin Ireland back and new half-backs Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan did not have the platform to get their side up to full throttle again.

The game was effectively put beyond Ireland's reach in the 64th minute when bustling centre Jonathan Davies exposed some poor defending on a powerful run to the try-line. Priestland this time nailed the conversion for a 22-10 buffer.

Back came Ireland, hunting desperately for a chink of light. But Wales kept their line intact and frustrated O'Driscoll and company, who were also let down by handling errors and poor decision-making.

Priestland missed a chance to put Wales more than two converted tries clear, striking a 74th minute penalty off a post, however the points were not needed as Ireland could not break down the red wall.

There is very little between these sides - the margins in recent matches prove this - and on another day, Ireland may well have got the verdict. Tonight was all about Wales though, and they deservedly qualified for only their second ever World Cup semi-final.
Very sad way for Ireland to exit this World Cup having beaten Australia and Italy so well only to come up far short against the Welsh, the dream is over, for now.

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