What Wales’ Ireland win says about SA-Wales game

2011-10-08 09:11

Wales put South Africa’s win over them in Pool D into perspective when they beat Ireland 22-10 in the first quarter-final of Rugby World Cup 2011 here at the Wellington Regional Stadium in cold and wet conditions today.

The Springboks just managed to beat Wales 17-16 in their opening game of the World Cup, while Ireland caused the shock of the tournament when they beat Australia in their first pool game. The Boks face the Tri-Nations champions in the third quarter final on Sunday.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said the victory was a major boost for his side’s confidence for the semis.It was a match of high intensity and plenty of skill, but in the end it was the Welsh massive defensive effort that swung the game in their favour.

“It was a very tough pool that we played in and to come out of it with a win today over Ireland puts us into a good frame of mind for the semi-finals. The first loss to South Africa in our first Pool D match could have gone either way and thereafter we just built momentum. Ireland beat Australia so it gives us a good indication of where we are at the moment,” he said.

“I am really proud of the boys’ performance today. They kept to our structure and really stood up to it especially on defence. We are now looking forward to prepare for the semis with confidence.”

Gatland says his side is in good shape physically and they will get better and better as the competition goes on. And because of the many youngsters in the side, it eliminates a lot of the fear factor.“With them there is no baggage an no fear factor. They’re not listening to the pundits and the critics. No team has worked harder than us in the pre-season. We sometimes had to get up at 05:30am for training sessions. This galvanised the team. The youngsters have expressed themselves and showed what they are capable of,” he said.

The Welsh led 10-3 at half-time through a try by dimutive winger Shane Williams, converted by Rhys Priestland and a long penalty from Leigh Halfpenny to a penalty from Ronan O’Gara.

But Ireland quickly drew level when a messy, but effective, backline move put Keith Earls over wide on the left in the valiant tackle of Mike Phillips, which the video referee ruled on.

The match took on a topsy-turvy look when Phillips scored Wales’ second try in the 50th minute, with a fine solo effort. He beat Gordon D’Arcy and dived over in the corner and the video referee was again called on to rule. Priestland missed the conversion, but Wales had hit back to lead 15-10. Priestland had a penalty attempt in the 58th minute. The ball swerved away late and hit the upright and bounced to safety.

But Wales went further ahead in the 64th minute when Jonathan Davies cut inside two haphazard defenders and Priestland added the conversion for a 22-10 lead.

Five minutes later Sean O’Brien knocked on in front of the Welsh line as Ireland attempted to get back into the match.

With seven minutes left Priestland hit the upright for the second time in the match, but Wales were well in command. Ireland had enjoyed the territorial advantage in the first half, playing with the wind, and were dominating in everything but the score. Williams opened the scoring for Wales in the third minute after the early part of the match was marked by relentless pressure on the Ireland line. The great start from the Welsh was accentuated by a superb touchline conversion from Priestland.

Unlike the Welsh, who easily beat the Irish defence for Williams’ early try, similar chances for the Irish at the other end were foiled by some excellent defence, which ended when the Dragons snaffled the ball and Priestland punted it to halfway. The Irish desire to score an equalising try saw O’Gara spurn relatively easy kicks for goal on three occasions in the first quarter. Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll said the wind played a huge role in the first half, informing his decision not to take the kicks at goal.

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