This had been a much anticipated game in this years Six Nations campaign for Ireland after the hammering they received in Cardiff last year as Wales picked up the Grand Slam. It was predicted to be a stormy afternoon at the Aviva Stadium in the capital and that proved to be the case.
Ireland started well in the opening 10 mins maintaining possession of the ball for a long period of time. It seemed Ireland had identified a weakness in the Welsh defence with Nick Tompkins making his first start after his debut from the bench against Italy a week earlier.
Robbie Henshaw drove at Tompkins a few times with some success before a dazzling run by Jordan Larmour caught the Saracens centre out just after the 15 minute mark. Larmour powered his way through the tackles of Josh Adams and Tomos Williams to touch down.
Wales struggled for territory for much of the first half with the wind undoubtedly playing a vital role in that and from the first minute it seemed as if Jacob Stockdale had the freedom of the left wing as he kicked the ball down the Welsh line. Dan Biggar was put under severe pressure from the chasing Irish backs and he was forced into carrying the ball over his own line, conceding a 5 metre scrum to Ireland.
Unfortunately from an Irish point of view that scrum came to nothing as Tadhg Furlong conceded a penalty, giving the ball back to Wales. A rare good spell for Wales resulted in them scoring a try which was converted by Biggar, giving Wales a 7-5 lead.
Wales then lost Josh Adams to injury and leading to some basic errors. Then 4 minutes later yet another error from the Wales scrum half lead to a scrum close to the line. The resulting scrum ended with Tadhg Furlong powering over to restore Ireland’s lead. Johnny Sexton then added the extras to give Ireland a 12-7 lead at the break.
Ireland started the second half without Robbie Henshaw and Wales lost Dan Biggar, both players failed a head injury assessment. Nevertheless Ireland doubled their lead after a lineout formed a maul with Josh van der Flier going over and Sexton converted a tough kick from the sideline.
Wales thought they had found a way back into the game when Hadleigh Parkes touched down but after a review from the touch match official he was judged to have knocked the ball on and the try was disallowed, a huge let off for Ireland.
More Welsh pressure followed until Dave Kilcoyne, who only lasted a minute in the victory over Scotland a week earlier, won a penalty for Ireland relieving pressure after a Welsh scrum.
From there Ireland took control of the game and worked an opening allowing for Munster winger Andrew Conway to dive over for the bonus point try for Ireland. Justin Tipuric scored a late consolation try for Wales in overtime.
This was a much needed improvement for Ireland as they prepare to take on England on February 23rd in what will be a pivotal game for Ireland in their quest for the Grand Slam. A win here would see Ireland have at least the Triple Crown in the bag before the Italy game and the France games respectively.