Rugby World Cup warm-up: Ireland 10-16 Wales

By John HaugheyBBC Sport in Dublin
Rhys Webb of Wales in action against Iain Henderson and Paul O'Connell of Ireland
Ireland and Wales were playing each other for the second time in 2015 World Cup warm-up fixtures
Ireland: (10) 10
Try: Henderson Con: Sexton Pen: Sexton
Wales (10) 16
Try: Tipuric Con: Halfpenny Pens: Halfpenny 3

Wales boosted their World Cup preparations as Justin Tipuric's excellent display and desperate late defence edged out Ireland in Dublin.

Hooker Sean Cronin crossed in the final seconds, but was held up under the posts to deny Ireland a decisive score.

Earlier Tipuric, brilliant with ball in hand and at the breakdown, had driven over before the superb Iain Henderson crossed to make it 10-10 at the break.

But Leigh Halfpenny's two second-half penalties proved enough for Wales.

The match saw Paul O'Connell making his final home appearance for Ireland while George North was back in action for Wales after a five-month concussion absence.

Ahead of Monday's World Cup squad announcement, Ireland suffered a potential blow as Keith Earls was taken off on a stretcher in the second half with an apparent head injury.

What made the difference?

Wales were a seriously different outfit to the under-strength side beaten 35-21 by the Irish three weeks ago. Their British and Irish Lions back row star Tipuric set the tone for the contest by getting past the gain-line time and time again.

Tipuric and his forward colleagues were able to make territory as they invariably ran on to the ball at pace while the Ireland pack looked ponderous in comparison.

Ireland performed well in the scrum, but struggled badly at the breakdown and it was only Henderson's vigorous display in the loose which kept the home side breathing in the first period.

Wings Dave Kearney and Earls, before his injury, looked dangerous but a lack of accuracy hindered the home side's attacking potential.

Iain Henderson put in an impressive performance and scored Ireland's try
Iain Henderson put in an impressive performance and scored Ireland's try

Talisman Tipuric

Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney, Robbie Henshaw, Conor Murray and Peter O'Mahony were all back for Ireland but the fly-half exhibited some rust in the first period with a couple of misjudged kicks.

Wales were able to subdue some early Ireland endeavour and after Halfpenny kicked the visitors ahead on 18 minutes, Tipuric notched their try seven minutes later as a well-executed maul concluded a period of sustained pressure.

After Halfpenny added the extras, Sexton opened Ireland's account but Wales were continuing to outmuscle the home side in the key forward exchanges.

Against the run of play, Ireland levelled as a big scrum shove on the Wales put-in in their 22 was finished off by the impressive Henderson's full-stretch touchdown.

Halfpenny penalties decisive

The game was there to be won after half-time but neither side was able to alter the scoreboard in the third quarter.

However, two Halfpenny penalties in the 64th and 70th minutes ultimately decided the contest after Ireland replacement Sean O'Brien had earlier been held up as he attempted to drive for the Welsh line.

Right at the death, Ireland thought they had snatched victory as another replacement, Sean Cronin, barged his way over the Wales goal-line but the match officials judged that the hooker had been held up.

However, possibly of bigger concern to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was the injury suffered by utility back Earls.

Henderson has to be in team - Hickie

Former Ireland winger Denis Hickie believes Ulster's 23-year-old lock has done enough to earn a starting role.

Iain Henderson scored his first try for Ireland in the match against Wales

"Iain Henderson was Ireland's best forward, but where do you play him? Without Devin Toner, you would not be guaranteed that line-out ball, but on today's performance you have to find a place for Henderson.

"The back five permutations have been thrown into disarray again because of the injuries to Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald.

"Of the two Ulster absentees, Tommy Bowe will definitely be going and Andrew Trimble is certainly very much still in the mix."

Ireland: R. Kearney, D. Kearney, Fitzgerald, Henshaw, Earls, Sexton, Murray, J. McGrath, Strauss, White, Henderson, O'Connell, O'Mahony, Murphy, Heaslip.

Replacements: Ryan for Fitzgerald (68), Jones for Earls (64), Jackson for Sexton (64), Reddan for Murray (64), Kilcoyne for J. McGrath (61), Cronin for Strauss (51), Furlong for White (57), O'Brien for O'Mahony (51).

Wales: Halfpenny, Cuthbert, S. Williams, Roberts, North, Biggar, Webb, Jenkins, Owens, Francis, B. Davies, Jones, Lydiate, Tipuric, T. Faletau.

Replacements: Amos for Roberts (62), Priestland for Biggar (64), G. Davies for Webb (64), James for Jenkins (47), Baldwin for Owens (55), Jarvis for Francis (55), Charteris for B. Davies (55), King for Lydiate (51).

Att: 47,430

Ref: Craig Joubert (South Africa).