Six Nations 2017: Wales unchanged to face Ireland

Sam Davies and Dan Biggar
Six Nations: Wales v Ireland
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Friday, 10 March Kick-off: 20:05 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Wales have named an unchanged starting team and bench to face Ireland in the Six Nations on Friday.

Coach Rob Howley has resisted calls to bring in fresh faces following defeats by Scotland and England.

Dan Biggar has held off Sam Davies' challenge at fly-half and George North remains on the wing with Ross Moriarty preferred at eight to Taulupe Faletau.

Ireland's starting XV also stays the same with Tommy Bowe replacing injured winger Andrew Trimble on the bench.

Rob Howley
Rob Howley will be 2017 Lions backs coach to New Zealand under Warren Gatland

Howley said: "There is a lot of experience in our group. You don't become a bad team overnight.

"As coaches we discussed possibly giving the side a chance to redeem themselves for the second half performance [against Scotland].

"There were too many forced and unforced errors in that game, I thought we were dominant for the first half against Scotland and that was off the back of one of the best games in the Six Nations against England for 75 minutes.

Wales in the 2017 Six Nations
Sunday, 5 February: Italy 7-33 Wales
Saturday, 11 February: Wales 16-21 England
Saturday, 25 February: Scotland 29-13 Wales
Friday, 10 March, 20:05 GMT: Wales v Ireland
Saturday, 18 March, 14:45 GMT: France v Wales

"This is a good team and we've got the opportunity to go out in front of our home supporters and deliver a performance the players are proud of and it's equally important for the supporters to support that.

"It's going to be a huge game on Friday night."

In the build-up to the announcement, Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards said North had been warned about his form.

Open-side flanker Justin Tipuric will win his 50th Wales cap. He has also played once for the British and Irish Lions.

Injury concern over Charteris

Howley had been expected to change his back row and second row, with Bath pair Faletau and Luke Charteris tipped to start.

Howley said the fact Faletau played for Bath against Wasps in the English Premiership was factor in the decision to retain the number eight on the bench while Charteris is named among the replacements despite the fact he is still undergoing return to play protocols after taking a blow to the head in that match.

"It would have been a six-day turnaround, they both played on Saturday and the pitch at Bath is pretty heavy," added Howley.

"Luke had concussion, he came off in that game. He's gone through the HIA (head injury assessment) process but wasn't able to train Saturday and Sunday.

"Luke passed the HIA on the day, he's done checks up until this point [Wednesday], he's just got his contact protocol to go through and he'll be fine."

Wales beat Italy in their opening game, but defeats by England and Scotland have meant a drop to seventh in the World Rugby global rankings.

A loss to Ireland and another against France on 18 March could mean Wales going into May's 2019 World Cup draw in ninth position and facing another "group of death" in Japan having endured similar circumstances in 2015.

On that occasion, Wales beat hosts England on their way to the quarter-finals, but lost to eventual finalists Australia in their pool game.

Wales team v Ireland

Halfpenny, North, Davies, S William s, L Williams; Biggar, Webb; Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, AW Jones (capt), Warburton, Tipuric, Moriarty.

Replacements: Baldwin, Smith, Lee, Charteris, Faletau, G Davies, S Davies, Roberts.

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