Wales fight back to earn Ireland draw


Wales were unable to complete the turnaround as they battled back to draw 16-16 with defending Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.

Warren Gatland's men trailed 13-0 following a Conor Murray try and eight points from the boot of Jonathan Sexton.

Wales were shorn of the services of Dan Biggar early on after the Ospreys fly-half was injured from kick-off, but battled back with the help of a Taulupe Faletau try to trail by just three at the interval.

Rhys Priestland, who missed with two drop-goal attempts in the second half, kicked Wales into a 16-13 lead after the break, but one more three-pointer from Sexton ensured the spoils were shared.

The result represents the first draw between the teams since the 1991 Five Nations in Cardiff.

Wales - forced into a late change as Liam Williams came in for injured full-back Gareth Anscombe - came off second best in a frantic opening 15 minutes, with Sexton kicking Ireland into a 6-0 lead.

Biggar's ankle was heavily strapped following his early knock and, after missing his first penalty attempt, he made way for Priestland.

Biggar limped off during a brief period of Welsh pressure, but the Irish defence showed its mettle and the hosts had a Jamie Heaslip try ruled out by the television match official in the 25th minute, with no clear evidence the number eight grounded his effort.

Ireland did cross two minutes later, though, as Murray barged his way through a gap in the Welsh defence to touch down.

Sexton added the extras before Priestland, who reneged on a decision to take a break from international rugby to feature in this year's championship, finally got Wales on the board from the tee.

A Jonathan Davies grubber put Ireland under pressure shortly after the half-hour mark and, from a subsequent scrum, Priestland chipped a delightful cross-field kick into the path of Williams, who was unfortunate to knock the ball dead.

The pressure did pay off, however, as Faletau powered over from another scrum and Priestland split the posts to make it 13-10 at the interval, and the Bath number 10 restored parity early in the second period having previously failed to find the target with a drop-goal attempt.

Errors from both teams hampered efforts to edge in front, but Tom James made a crucial tackle on Andrew Trimble wide left following a dangerous Sexton break.

Wales showed great patience in an attack made up of more than 25 phases and, despite losing possession, eventually won a penalty - Priestland on target with the boot to put the visitors in front for the first time.

However, Sexton pulled Ireland level with six minutes left on the clock and Priestland's second bash at a drop goal failed to deliver the goods, leaving both teams to settle for a point.


Key Opta stats:

- Ireland and Wales have now drawn three matches (against any opposition) in the Six Nations (since 2000), more than any other side.
- Rhys Priestland's 11 points is the most ever scored by a replacement for Wales in a match against Ireland, and the most ever scored by a replacement for Wales in a Six Nations match (since 2000).
- These sides have played 61 Tests on Irish soil in total, with the two evenly balanced on 28 wins apiece and five draws shared.