Wales unchanged for Six Nations clash with Ireland

Posted March 11, 2017

A courageous Wales have put a significant dent into Ireland's hopes of regaining the Six Nations after a 22-9 win that was full of heart in front of a bumper Millennium Stadium crowd.

Ireland didn't like it, but Barnes was spot on.

SEAN O'BRIEN ISN'T one to beat around the bush and when he's playing well, he's happy to say as much.

That certainly doesn't suggest anti-Irish bias, so the negative commentary surrounding Barnes has been unwarranted.

A loss to Ireland and another against France on 18 March could mean Wales going into May's 2019 World Cup draw in ninth position and facing another "group of death" in Japan having endured similar circumstances in 2015.

For Ireland, the match is about about staying in title contention after consecutive victories over Italy and France, and potentially setting up a winner-takes-all finale against England in Dublin next week.

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); K Earls (Munster), G Ringrose, R Henshaw (both Leinster), S Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), D Toner (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster), S O'Brien, J Heaslip (both Leinster).

But Ireland blew a golden opportunity when Henshaw was penalised just inches from Wales' line, and the home side prevailed, despite the visitors again laying siege during a frantic finale, as Roberts marked his 90th cap by finishing them off.

"We've got Dan Leavy and Jack Conan in camp now as well and they're all pushing".

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Their back-row, for instance, were off the pace throughout February as Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty collectively made just a 125-metre gain off 74 carries.

GEORGE NORTH was the Wales hero with a two-try blast on a night when the brilliance of Irish talisman Johnny Sexton was numbed through injury and a spell in the sin bin.

The odds are against Wales then in these likely crucial back-row/half-back battles, but they remain a side that, Murrayfield excepted, doesn't know when it is beaten.

Can Ireland register their seventh victory at the Principality Stadium in 10 Six Nations trips or will Wales return to winning ways? When asked about the roof in the build up to the Grand Slam game 8 years ago, Declan Kidney quipped that Welsh fans can build quite an atmosphere, so it is best to let that out the top.

Backs: Leigh Halfpenny; George North; Jonathan Davies; Scott Williams; Liam Williams; Dan Biggar; Rhys Webb.

He made two linebreaks with his 14 carries against Scotland, one of them involving a powerful fend after a clever dummy pass to Paddy Jackson as the out-half ran a loop play.

Three minutes before half time, Ireland suffered a blow as Sexton was sin-binned by Barnes, with the referee deeming that the out-half "clearly killed the ball on the line" as Wales nearly got in for a try.

That's an outcome to send a shiver down any Irish spine.