Patchell gets the nod to start against Irish

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Rhys Patchell (Getty Images)
Rhys Patchell (Getty Images)

Cardiff - Rhys Patchell's impressive second-half performance in the 22-17 defeat to Ireland last Saturday has earned the flyhalf the starting spot for Wales's final World Cup Test against the same opponents on Saturday.

The 26-year-old transformed the Welsh when he came on for the second period as they came back from 22-3 down to pull to within five points, Patchell scoring a try to boot.

That gave him the edge over Jarrod Evans as backup to flyhalf Dan Biggar - who himself was second pick behind Gareth Anscombe until the latter suffered a knee injury last month.

Patchell teams up again with scrumhalf Tomos Williams, who also came on for the second-half against the Irish.

The halfbacks are relatively raw in terms of Test rugby but will have the experienced centre partnership of Jonathan Davies and Hadleigh Parkes outside them.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has recalled several others of his front line players - having given some fringe players the chance to book their ticket to Japan in the Test last Saturday in Cardiff.

The likes of fullback Leigh Halfpenny, who only returned to Test rugby after a long absence in the victory over England last month, try machine George North, No 8 Ross Moriarty and Justin Tipuric will line-up.

The side will be captained by veteran lock Alun Wyn Jones, who skippered them to the Six Nations Grand Slam earlier this year sealing it with a dominant performance over the Irish in Cardiff.

Gatland, who brings the curtain down on his 12 year tenure which has yielded three Grand Slams after the World Cup, said Saturday permitted some players to put pressure on the incumbents for a starting spot in their first game in Japan against Georgia.

"This is our final preparation match so it is important we get enough rugby into us, get rugby ready ahead of our RWC opener against Georgia (September 23) which is just over two weeks away," said the 55-year-old New Zealander, who flies out with the team on Wednesday.

"It is important we hit the ground running in Japan and we give the players enough time on the field.

"Saturday is the first time these players would have taken to the field as members of the RWC squad, it has been a big week and it is a big opportunity for players to put their hand up and secure spots for the starting XV in Japan."

Teams:

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny; 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams; 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Tomos Williams; 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Aaron Wainwright; 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captian), 4 Jake Ball; 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Wyn Jones

Subtitutes: 16 Ken Owen, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams

Ireland

15 Rob Kearney; 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Keith Earls; 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 CJ Stander; 5 Jean Kleyn, 4 James Ryan; 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (capt), 1 Cian Healy

Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Jack Carty, 23 Garry Ringrose

 

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