World Cup warm-up match: Wales 21-35 Ireland

By Richard WilliamsBBC Wales Sport at the Millennium Stadium
Impressive Ireland deny Wales
World Cup warm-up: Wales v Ireland
Wales: (7) 21
Tries: Hibbard, Tipuric, Cuthbert Cons: Hook, Anscombe (2)
Ireland: (25) 35
Tries: Heaslip, Cave, Earls, Zebo, Jones Pens: Jackson (2) Cons: Jackson (2)

Ireland had a dream start to their World Cup preparations as they scored five tries in an impressive win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

Captain Jamie Heaslip scored the opener as he became Ireland's most capped back-row forward.

Darren Cave, Keith Earls, Simon Zebo and Felix Jones also crossed with Wales replying through Richard Hibbard, Justin Tipuric and Alex Cuthbert.

The only downside for the Irish was an injury to flanker Tommy O'Donnell.

Munster's O'Donnell will have a scan on an injured hip after being carried off on a stretcher late in the match.

Heaslip try puts Ireland in front

Ulster wing Andrew Trimble, playing for the first time since October 2014, limped off with a foot strain in the first half, and Wales captain Scott Williams was taken off as a precaution with a calf strain.

The result will see Ireland move to second in World Rugby's rankings, overtaking South Africa.

And it leaves Wales coach Warren Gatland and Ireland's Joe Schmidt with very different headaches as they reduce their respective squads ahead of their next warm-up matches.

Welsh players hoping to impress had an uncomfortable afternoon behind a pack which was outplayed by a more experienced Irish eight.

Up to 10 of them will be cut from the squad in the next week, with Schmidt due to shed seven from Ireland's before they play Scotland next week.

Jonathan Davies, former Wales fly-half
"For the Ireland boys this performance puts pressure on the first-choice players. We all know the Wales first-choice team but they have not put them under any pressure, they have been poor today."

Wales face the Irish again in Dublin on 29 August.

The last time these teams met Wales beat Ireland 23-16 in one of the best matches seen at the Millennium Stadium, with the Welsh victory built on a remorseless defensive effort.

There could not have been a greater contrast as Ireland's more streetwise side took advantage of gaps around the fringes of the Welsh rucks and scrums, with Eoin Redden, Heaslip and Earls in particular showing the benefit of their experience.

Wales were outpaced and out-thought, with Ireland sharper in everything they did and quick to take advantage of Welsh handling errors which were not in short supply.

Earls scores after Walker spill

An initial period of Welsh pressure was followed by half an hour of total Irish dominance which resulted in three tries before Wales replied with Hibbard's touchdown after a clever lineout move involving Dominic Day and Justin Tipuric.

Eli Walker's acrobatics almost resulted in another Welsh try before the interval, but Wales' good finish to the first half was tempered by the fact Ireland themselves butchered two glorious scoring chances, and Scott Williams needed to pull-off a last-gasp cover tackle to stop Trimble scoring after a 70-yard break out.

The Welsh revival was short lived as replacement Zebo dived over from close range after Welsh flanker Ross Moriarty was yellow carded for a high tackle on the Munster winger.

Full-back Felix Jones rounded off a fine move before Wales finally clicked, but with the match already lost.

Tipuric capped a fine showing by rounding off a flowing move and Cuthbert scored in added time.

But with just over a month to go before the World Cup kicks off, Ireland will be the far happier camp.

Wales: Amos, Cuthbert, Tyler Morgan, Scott Williams (Matthew Morgan 58), Walker, Hook (Anscombe 50), Phillips (Lloyd Williams 50), Smith (Rob Evans 51), Hibbard (Dacey 51), Jarvis (Andrews 59), Ball (King 59), Day, Moriarty, Tipuric, Baker (Taulupe Faletau 42).

Ireland: Jones, Trimble (Zebo 35), Earls (Marmion 68), Cave, McFadden, Jackson, Reddan (Madigan 68), Jack McGrath (Kilcoyne 52), Strauss (Best 63), Ross (Bent 58), Henderson, Ryan. (Tuohy 51), Murphy, O'Donnell, Heaslip (Henry 55).

Attendance: 74,000

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand).

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