|Byrne leads Ireland
Shane Byrne and captain Brian O'Driscoll scored two tries each
as Ireland overwhelmed Wales 36-15 at Lansdowne Road.
Wales' apparent revival following their run to the
World Cup quarter-finals came off the rails with a six-try
thrashing which got Ireland off the mark in this year's RBS 6
O'Driscoll and co put their
stamp on the match early, were well in charge by half-time and
not hard-pressed to withstand belated Welsh resistance which
resulted in two tries for replacement wing Tom Shanklin.
Ireland were immediately in charge thanks to RBS Man
of the Match Byrne's first-minute try.
He took Wales
unawares by breaking free from a rolling maul and charging
over completely unattended from close range.
O'Gara converted - but within five minutes a Stephen Jones
penalty got Wales on the board too.
quarter-hour, though, sustained Irish pressure was rewarded
with a second try.
Centre O'Driscoll jinked and muscled
his way over, and O'Gara once again converted.
teams were contributing to an entertaining spectacle of
running rugby - and Ireland had to be alert to cover Wales
breaks through the backs.
O'Gara was wide with a
penalty attempt from close on 50 metres, and Tyrone Howe was
kept out only by a last-ditch tackle by Martyn Williams as
Ireland threatened to move out of sight midway through the
But by the half-hour the hosts were 19-3
in front, after O'Gara had charged down an attempted clearance
from Iestyn Harris and chased over the try-line to touch down.
The Munster stand-off was unable to convert, but Wales
were already in danger of being swamped.
had to make changes before the break, Welsh prop Adam Jones
replaced by Gethin Jenkins and Malcolm O'Kelly brought into
the hosts' second row for Donncha O'Callaghan.
when it looked as if Wales may turn around still just about
within sight of their opponents Byrne popped up with his
second try of the match.
Proving a more than able
replacement for retired Ireland lynchpin Keith Wood, he went
in at the corner this time for his third touchdown in 26
Tests. O'Gara failed to add the extras from wide out, but
Ireland were still 24-3 to the good.
Wales had the
wind behind them in the second half but rarely threatened to
make it count, and instead it was number eight Anthony Foley
who collected a short reverse pass from Peter Stringer to
extend the Irish lead. O'Gara missed the conversion from a
favourable position - but Wales were down and out anyway.
Flanker Keith Gleeson proved the point with a decisive
break through Welsh cover, and O'Driscoll was once again the
glory boy with the touchdown before O'Gara landed the extras
Centre Gordon D'Arcy had been at the centre
of much of Ireland's best play, but they lost him just before
the hour when he limped off to be replaced by Bath's Kevin
Wales finally awoke from their slumber with an
increased share of possession from their forwards and some
spirited running from the backs which culminated in an
unconverted try in the corner for Shanklin.
notwithstanding plenty of late pressure - and a spell in the
sin-bin for home full-back Girvan Dempsey - the fightback
amounted only to a second Shanklin try.
to convert from under the posts, but it was still a hugely
disappointing afternoon for the Welsh renaissance