Howley opts against Wales overhaul for Ireland clash

by Wade Massey March 13, 2017, 0:23
Howley opts against Wales overhaul for Ireland clash

North's second try of the evening early in the second period put the Dragons on their way to a first win in three, which Halfpenny added to with the extras from close to the touchline.

The players will be performing mini-miracles if they can keep this up until the final whistle, but if the second half is anything like the first, then we're in for a cracker.

The Northampton Saints back produced the ideal response on Friday night though, putting the home side on the scoreboard in Cardiff with his first try after 19 minutes before going over again four minutes after half-time.

In a general observation, Schmidt said: "We play off more scrums than anyone else in the championship, and it's incredibly infuriating when teams that don't tend to play off scrums get rewarded for the way they approach the scrum".

It was Ireland who got off the mark first thanks to a Jonny Sexton pen, but North crossed over for the first time soon after to give Wales a valuable lead.

The 14 men in green defended bravely as Wales again started fast but a rolling maul sucked in Zebo and North exploited the space to grab his second of the match.

"He's a quality, world-class global player", Howley said.

Wales have won just four of their last 12 matches - a run stretching back to last year's Six Nations and including a defeat to Waikato Chiefs: the victories came over Italy, Japan, a season-weary Argentina and a disintegrating South Africa.

"He's a quality, world-class worldwide player", Wales interim head coach Rob Howley said. Before Jamie Roberts scooped up Johnny Sexton's blocked down clearance to seal the victory, Ireland looked nailed-on to drive their maul over the Welsh line, only to be penalised at the pivotal moment.

A night for Lions auditions?

Interestingly for Gatland, some of them go to head-to-head.

Captain Sam Warburton produced an excellent display to quell Ireland's attacking pressure and ensured that the marauding CJ Stander was ineffective throughout.

Still, it feels like the Irish have taken a step back from those heady days of last autumn, which earned them the tag of favorites heading into the Six Nations.

The architect of both his tries, however, was Rhys Webb.

Ireland skipper Rory Best said his side were to blame for the loss, not the referee.

Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Peter O'Mahony, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Tommy Bowe.

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