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Wales piled fresh misery on Ireland just four months after knocking them out of the World Cup by claiming a 23-21 RBS Six Nations victory in Dublin thanks to Leigh Halfpenny's last-minute penalty.
Halfpenny was on target after Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Wales lock Ian Evans.
English referee Wayne Barnes made the call despite the offence being nowhere near as bad as Bradley Davies' tackle which earlier upended Irish replacement Donnacha Ryan. Davies received a yellow card, when it could have been red.
Halfpenny held his nerve to give Wales a rare Six Nations win in the Irish capital as boos rang around the Aviva Stadium, his strike following earlier tries by centre Jonathan Davies (2) and wing George North.
Ice-cool Cardiff Blues star Halfpenny landed another penalty and conversion after taking over the duties from an out-of-sorts Rhys Priestland, who missed two penalty sitters.
Priestland's opposite number Jonathan Sexton slotted three penalties and a conversion, while hooker Rory Best and wing Tommy Bowe scored tries in a game when the lead changed hands five times.
But Ireland's Grand Slam, Triple Crown and probable title hopes were ultimately shredded by a Wales team whose last Six Nations win on Dublin soil came during a Grand Slam title-winning season in 2008.
They could, though, be without captain Sam Warburton against Scotland next weekend after he went off at half-time nursing a leg injury.
Ireland, winners of their opening Six Nations fixture on seven previous occasions, handed Fergus McFadden the number 13 shirt vacated by revered leader Brian O'Driscoll, who will miss this season's tournament as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Wales fielded 10 of the side that ended Ireland's World Cup hopes last October, with Priestland and centre Jamie Roberts both recovering from knee problems, but injuries sidelined forwards Dan Lydiate, Gethin Jenkins, Alun-Wyn Jones and Luke Charteris.
Ireland took the lead through a third-minute Sexton penalty, but Wales responded in determined fashion as Bradley Davies and then North were only denied tries by some last-ditch tackling.
Wales kept battering away, and flanker Ryan Jones stretched over Ireland's line only for television match official Geoff Warren to rule against the visitors following repeated views from a number of angles.
Warren was called upon again just six minutes later, only this time it was a far easier call after Priestland's one-handed pass found Jonathan Davies, who touched down in the corner despite a Gordon D'Arcy challenge.
Davies scored the try which sealed Wales' World Cup win in Wellington, and his latest touchdown successfully rounded off a spell of concerted Wales pressure, handing them a 5-3 advantage after Priestland's conversion attempt hit the post.
Priestland, though, was guilty of a glaring miss as the first-half reached its midway point, striking the post straight in front from 25 metres, and Ireland stormed upfield.
Missed kicks ultimately cost Wales dear at the World Cup, yet they looked a step ahead of Ireland in thought and deed with ball in hand, and scrum-half Mike Phillips snapped a razor-sharp back division into action at every opportunity.
Ireland should have regained the lead 12 minutes before half-time, but Sexton emulated Priestland in missing an easy chance after Phillips was pulled up for obstruction on his former Ospreys team-mate Bowe.
Ireland began to grow into proceedings as the interval approached, piecing together several threatening phases, and they cut Wales open through a well-worked 38th-minute try.
Bowe cropped up on the left flank, drifted outside Alex Cuthbert and then freed Ulster forward Best for his sixth try in 55 Tests, with Sexton's angled conversion giving Ireland a 10-5 lead.
Ryan Jones took over the captaincy after skipper Warburton did not appear for the second period, and there was also a switch in the back-three, with Cuthbert going off, Halfpenny moving to wing duty and James Hook featuring at full-back.
Warburton's loss was a considerable one for Wales, continuing their run of injuries in recent weeks and giving Gatland another potential problem ahead of next Sunday's Millennium Stadium encounter against Scotland.
Sexton extended Ireland's lead with his second successful penalty, but Wales responded majestically, scoring 10 points in two minutes via a Halfpenny penalty and conversion of Davies' second try.
Priestland's third successive miss with the boot saw Halfpenny take over kicking duties, and his accuracy underpinned a superb Welsh recovery highlighted when North set up Davies' sprint for glory after he smashed Ireland's midfield defence asunder and then found his colleague with a one-handed pass.
But back came Ireland as the lead changed hands for a fourth time inside an hour after Sexton completed his penalty hat-trick to set the scene for an enthralling final quarter.
Wales briefly threatened to unravel when Davies was in the sin-bin, Bowe scoring Ireland's second try 12 minutes from time, but North then powered over in the 76th minute before Halfpenny's clincher.6 Nations. Click here to bet.
Bradley Davies needs to be dropped at least for the next match - Are we so stupid that we have learnt nothing from the world cup? His stupidity almost cost us the match. However another wonderful Welsh performance with so many excellent players stepping up to the mark yet again. Lets hope all the injuries are cleared up soon. Come on Wales - bring on Scotland !!!!
Posted 19:45 6th February 2012
the match was amasing still each team played great
Posted 12:09 6th February 2012
great wales performence
Posted 11:56 6th February 2012
Wayne Barnes is a joke and his performance typified current international refereeing standards. He was not tough enough when required (Davies should have received a red card) and over-reacted when he did not need to (Ferris' tackle was totally legitimate). It would seem that he felt he had to even up Davies' yellow card which cost Ireland the game. The IRB has much to answer for. It has created a penalty regime which has seen international matches lost because, for example, a prop slipped on the turf, someone entered a ruck one degree more than they should have or someone tackled an opponent too physically (isn't that what rugby is all about?). I for one am losing interest in northern hemipshere games for these reasons.
Posted 11:55 6th February 2012
Wayne Barnes always gives bad decisions against ireland and irish sides in the H cup. B Davis absolutely a red card and Ferris tackle not even a penalty because his lef leg never left the turf, fair play to wales though I was surprised how good they are and should win the championship now. but Im sorry while I was watching the game with my mates with 5 minutes to go I had a bet that Barnes would give a soft penalty against Ireland and guess what happened? He is a poor poor referee
Posted 09:59 6th February 2012
A great game,watched with a bunch of fellow Welsh exiles,at a bar in Singapore in the wee hours! I was expecting Ireland to take the game to Wales,from the 'off'' and get us on the ropes straight away. It was much the other way however and there is a mark of confidence about the side,which obviously Gatland has imbued into them. Fair play to Ireland,they played a blinder as well and O' Connell,what a leader. If we can sort out our line out and goal kicking,I can see a Triple Crown this year,at least. Mind you there were a few of us closing our eyes and ears when Halfpenny lined up at the end!!!. In the office this morning 'elated',if not a touch 'tired'.
Posted 01:35 6th February 2012
I am sure that there will be many contributors who are aghast at "that spear tackle" not resulting in anything but a Yellow card. Any player who loses his self control to that extent has no place on the rugby field EVER. Hopefully the IRB will take decisive action for once, make an example and issue a life ban. Whilst on that point, I noted that when Roberts scored, just after half time, an Irish player went in with his knees. The try had already been scored,the ball put down, so I can only assume that there was intent to cause injury as in the "spear tackle". That is also a Red card and a banning offence yet no action is ever taken against the perpetrators - it seems that referees and the IRB approve of this course of action. May I suggest that all these refereeing decisions (or lack of them) can materially affect the outcome of matches (Quell horreux in these days of the great God money!). Why not try the American system (they do get things right ocasionally) and expel the player from the field REPLACING him with a substitute so the game can reach a fair and balanced conclusion. The IRB can then deal with the offending player at their leisure and apply a ban if necessary and the game is not spoiled for the people who are the paymasters of the whole system - the paying public. This might make some who are in reciept of £200k + salaries for just playing rugby think again. It might also restore this truly beautiful game of ours to its proper status
Posted 17:48 5th February 2012
Ha Ha Ireland cry into your Guinness lol.lol.lol.........
Posted 17:20 5th February 2012
Well done Wales for playing with ambition.However, I cant understand the failure to red card Bradley Dvies. Who took the decison? Could it be the same Dave Pearson who didn't yellow card Nathan Hines in the Clermont/ Ulster Heineken Cup match and who subsequently allowed a Clermont try despite a piece of blatant obstruction by the same player. Is he blind, incompetent, or guilty of racial discriminaion against all teams Irish?
Posted 17:15 5th February 2012