Ireland will move to the top of the world rankings on Monday following an excellent 19-10 triumph over Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
In Joe Schmidt’s and Rory Best’s final home match, the Irish produced a much-improved performance, despite going into the break 10-7 in arrears.
Rob Kearney had opened the scoring for the 2018 Grand Slam winners, but the Welsh hit back via Leigh Halfpenny’s penalty and Hadleigh Parkes’ try.
That did not affect the impressive Irishmen and they sealed the win in the second period as Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan went over.
In their last game before the World Cup, both sides played strong XVs but it was the visitors that began the brighter, putting pressure on the opposition rearguard. However, the hosts remained stout and edged themselves into the game.
Schmidt’s men were playing with far more intensity than they did at Twickenham and were forcing the Welsh backwards. Bundee Aki, after performing well last week, was once again a threat and his break created their first chance of the game.
— Channel 4 Sport (@C4Sport) September 7, 2019
In typical Irish style, they remained patient and eventually the away side’s dam burst as Kearney shrugged off the attentions of Halfpenny to touch down.
Johnny Sexton converted for a seven-point buffer but the Six Nations holders immediately responded as their full-back was successful off the tee.
Ireland looked to continue their positive opening half-hour, though, and had a decent set-piece chance in the opposition half. They used a pre-planned move but Dan Biggar read it well, intercepted and burst clear.
Although brilliant cover defence held him up, from the resultant scrum Parkes took a superb line to scamper across the whitewash and give Wales the advantage at the interval.
Unperturbed, the hosts began the second period on the front foot and pressurised inside the visiting 22. Warren Gatland’s charges held out resiliently but they eventually yielded when Furlong barrelled his way over for a well-deserved try.
Ireland had the momentum and the Welsh were failing to cope. This time it was Ryan who was successful from close range as his surge resulted in the hosts stretching out to a nine-point lead.
Wales had no answer to the home team’s power and their woes were compounded by Adam Beard’s yellow card, which meant they ended the match with 14 men.
Tries: Kearney, Furlong, Ryan
Cons: Sexton 2
Yellow Card: Beard
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Jean Kleyn, 4 James Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Garry Ringrose
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Luke Pearce (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)