Ireland on course for Six Nations Grand Slam as Sheehan, Lowe and Frawley tries sink Wales

Ireland celebrate their third try of the afternoon en route to beating Wales in Dublin

After beating Italy by six tries to nil last time out, Andy Farrell described Ireland’s performance as “a bit clunky”. After this four-try bonus point win over Wales, which keeps their bid to become the first team in the Six Nations era to win back-to-back Grand Slams right on track, he called his men “a bit passive”. There is a theme developing here.

Ireland are performing at a different level to every other team in this Six Nations. Even when they are not at their best - and Farrell was right, they never really got out of third gear against a limited, albeit spirited Wales team - they are simply too good, too well-oiled, and have too much strength in depth.

Warren Gatland spent the build-up to this match promising his Wales team would target callow full-back Ciaran Frawley, with Hugo Keenan – arguably the world’s best full-back – out injured.

But just as Jack Crowley stepped into the boots of Johnny Sexton in Marseille without missing a beat, so Frawley, on his first Six Nations start and playing out of position, put in an assured performance. The 26-year-old even scored his team’s third try of the afternoon, cutting in on a fine angle to run onto the excellent Jamison Gibson-Park’s pass.

“He was solid enough,” Farrell said afterwards, not getting carried away. “It was a big day for him. Gats was saying all week they were going to test him. He’s always solid. His skillset is sound and he is always solid under the high ball, has hands, and he communicates well as well. I suppose he will be glad that’s done now and he can build on it.”

This has very much been Farrell’s mantra as Ireland have racked up 18 consecutive wins at home. He expects his newbies to come in and hit the ground running, and by and large they have. Whether it is Crowley for Sexton, Frawley for Keenan, or Calvin Nash coming in for Mack Hansen, Ireland are relentless.

As well as targeting Frawley, Gatland had noted the All Blacks’ fast start against Ireland at the World Cup, they way they tore into the men in green, taking a 13-0 lead.

But Ireland had complete and utter dominance in a first half in which they scored two tries, the first a rolling maul finished off by Dan Sheehan, the second a James Lowe effort in the corner following a superb offload from Nash.

Wales defended valiantly. But they were outpowered up front, and only ventured into the Irish 22m for the first time on 36 minutes. They also conceded nine first half penalties, with Gatland muttering afterwards about some “tough calls” from Italian referee Andrea Piardi, who was also making his Six Nations debut.

The second half was closer. Wales were awarded a penalty try, and with Tadhg Beirne sent to the bin and the scoreline 17-7, in theory Wales were right in the game. It never felt that way. Ireland played most of the rugby while they were down to 14 men. And when Beirne returned to the field, the lock’s first contribution was to win a turnover penalty from an attacking Wales lineout.

After Frawley got his first international try, it looked as if the game might peter out. But a superb late tackle by Stuart McCloskey, who replaced Nash on the wing, won Ireland a late turnover and Beirne claimed the bonus-point try with the clock in the red. Ruthless.

Wales had some positives. Cameron Winnett was arguably more impressive than Frawley, while Tomos Williams had a fine game at scrum-half. But Ireland were able to throw on so much power. James Ryan and Ryan Baird replaced ‘Big Joe’ McCarthy and Peter O’Mahony. Baird in particular made a couple of rampaging runs.

Farrell praised hs it was “pleasing” that Ireland’s replacements have all slotted in so well, but said he expected them to. “When they put the green shirt on it is their responsibility to fill it and that requires them to get to a place that is a bit strange to them and they need to know that is the standard. It’s something that you would expect to happen if you prepare properly.”

Next up is England at Twickenham. If Ireland get through that, they will be short odds for a second successive Grand Slam, with Scotland the visitors on St Patrick’s Day weekend. Gregor Townsend’s team are dangerous, as they proved again against England on Saturday. But this was Ireland’s 18th win on the spin at home. And they never really got out of third gear.

“Should have been 40,” Farrell said, smiling. “We had a couple of tries notched of there.”

Match details

Ireland: Frawley; Nash, Henshaw, Aki, Lowe; Crowley, Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong; McCarthy, Beirne; O’Mahony (capt), Van der Flier, Doris.
Replacements: Kelleher, Healy, Jager, Ryan, Baird, Conan, Murray, McCloskey.
Sin-bin: Beirne (43), Ryan (76).
Wales: Winnett; Adams, North, Tompkins, Dyer; Costelow, Tomos Williams; G Thomas, Dee, Assiratti, Jenkins (capt), Beard, Mann, Reffell, Wainwright.
Replacements: Elias, Domachowski, D Lewis, Rowlands, M Martin, Hardy, I Lloyd, Grady.

Scoring sequence: 3-0 Crowley pen; 8-0 Sheehan try; 10-0 Crowley con; 15-0 Lowe try; 17-0 Crowley con; 17-7 penalty try; 22-7 Frawley try; 24-7 Crowley con; 29-7 Beirne try; 31-7 Crowley.

Ireland v Wales: As it happened . . .

04:42 PM GMT

Jubilation for Ireland

Josh van der Flier of Ireland applauds the fans
Josh van der Flier of Ireland applauds the fans - Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Oli Jager of Ireland celebrates
Oli Jager of Ireland celebrates - Getty Images/Ramsey Cardy

04:38 PM GMT

Farrell: Ireland ‘passive’ despite victory

That game had a bit of everything really, form the sublime to the ridiculous

I thought we were a bit passive in the first half, albeit Wales were solid in defence

To punch like we did for the last 20 minutes with the power we had off the’s a fitting score in the end for us.

04:33 PM GMT

Warren Gatland: ‘We’re on journey’

Warren Gatland cut a grim figure after his side’s third loss in a row, emphasising that his team is on a “journey”.

The Wales coach also suggested the final scoreline didn’t fairly reflect the efforts of his team.

“We’re on a a bit of a journey at the moment,” he said. “They’re young guys and they’re learning as they go.

“It felt like the score line blew out a little bit and probably wasn’t reflective.”

Analysing his side’s performance, Gatland said his side were out-gunned physically. “They probably outmuscled us a little bit in terms of collisions, particularly when they got into our 22,” he said.

“You are playing against an experienced team, one of the best teams in the world, and they thoroughly deserved to win.”

04:21 PM GMT

Aki: ‘Wales put us under the pump’

We got put under the pump there at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half. That’s credit to Wales.

Big ups to the boys for trying to weather the storm and trusting in each other and trusting the process.

04:19 PM GMT

Frawley: ‘Ireland know how to win’

Ciaran Frawley described Ireland’s performance as “clunky” in the first half but said his team “know how to win”.

Speaking after the match, the full-back, on his first test start, spoke of his delight at getting on the scoreboard.

“I was delighted to get over in the second half...the space just opened up for me and it was lovely,” he said. “The players here are unbelievable. They know how to win.”

04:09 PM GMT


Tadhg Beirne goes over!

The big Irish second-row, redeemed after his yellow card, wraps around the corner and charges at a gap around the edge of the ruck, busting through the tackle to score.

Crowley slots the conversion, and the Irish juggernaut rumbles on - their Grand Slam hopes still very much alive.

The final score in Dublin, Ireland 31 - 7 Wales.

Ireland's Tadhg Berine scores with the final play of the game
Ireland's Tadhg Berine scores with the final play of the game - AP/Peter Morrison
Beirne returns from a yellow card to get on the scoresheet
Beirne returns from a yellow card to get on the scoresheet - Getty Images/Sam Barnes

04:06 PM GMT

80 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Ireland slip the ball wide to Lowe, before shipping it the other way to feed Healy on the edge.

Wales’ defence holds firm for the time being as the momentum slows down, but now Crowley slips an offload and makes a half-break.

04:04 PM GMT

79 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Ireland kick up-field and prepare to launch another attack.

McCloskey feels around for a gap and finds one, burrowing into the Welsh 22. These are dangerous times for Wales as the clock ticks into the red.

04:03 PM GMT

75 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Wainwright gathers the goal-line drop-out and winds up for a charge into Ireland’s defence.

Wales move the ball left, but McCloskey jams in for a huge collision with Mason Grady. Ireland seize the momentum at the ensuing ruck and charge through, forcing a turnover penalty.

McCloskey pumps the air in celebration.

04:02 PM GMT

75 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Martin now bludgeons the Irish defence before Wainwright chances his arm. The big No 8 looks to reach over, but Irish bodies get underneath it and he is held up.

Ireland clear to half-way.

04:01 PM GMT

75 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

James Ryan sees yellow for committing the third Irish infringement in quick succession.

Wales will tap and go from the penalty through Elias.

03:59 PM GMT

74 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Ireland infringe twice more - both offside - which will surely invite a card from the referee.

Meanwhile Wales home in on the line, giving the ball to the big men to tuck it up the jumper.

Elias wades through a tackle, before Tompkins now has a go.

03:58 PM GMT

72 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Off the subsequent play, Wales win a scrum in midfield and have a solid platform from which to launch an attack.

They go right, looping around the edge of the Irish defence and making it up to the 22.

They fizz the ball back left, with Winnett escaping the clutches of Irish defenders to sneak through.

Wales win a penalty for Ireland playing the nine and go quick, winning another penalty in the process for Ireland being off-side.

03:55 PM GMT

70 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Wales scrum penalty. The Welsh forwards coaches will have done some analysis at half-time to undermine Porter’s scrum dominance, and it appears to have worked.

03:53 PM GMT

65 min: IRE 24 WAL 7

Ryan Baird storms through a gap, galloping up-field with his rangy strides.

The excitement at being in open space appears to go to his head slightly, and he delays too long on the pass to Gibson-Park.

Baird gets the ball back off the following ruck but knocks on. Wales scrum.

03:51 PM GMT


Frawley gets a score on his starting debut, and what a moment for it to come in the game.

The pressure off the line-out was too much for Wales, who get caught narrow off the subsequent phase.

With gaps opening up in midfield, Frawley runs a hard line off Gibson-Park, scything clean through the Welsh defence and going over.

Ireland add the conversion.

03:48 PM GMT

65 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Ireland tighten the screw all of a sudden with a succession of slick offloads, notably from Doris, to get Baird on the front foot. The ball squirts out the following ruck and Ireland win a line out, reverting to their driving maul shape. This one looks well-set.

03:47 PM GMT

65 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Costelow puts in a neat kick to Crowley, but the Irish 10 raises him one with an arching spiral to the corner that outfoxes his opposite number.

Wales kick to half-way off the line-out and Frawley tears onto it to run the ball back.

03:46 PM GMT

64 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Wales launch the ball high for Crowley to take, and Gibson-Park returns serve.

A degree of conservatism has crept into the game all of a sudden as both teams recognise the next score could prove the decider.

03:45 PM GMT

62 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

The ball goes to ground though and Wales have a chance to counter. With a quick loop and a switch, it looks for a moment as if they are playing sevens.

Ireland are at sixes and sevens chasing back, with James Lowe forced to treck back inside his own 22 under pressure from an on-rushing Dyer.

The Irish winger does well to weather the contact, and Ireland clear to inside the Welsh half.

03:43 PM GMT

61 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Wales’ replacement props stand strong, allowing the backs a clean exit.

The ball does not make touch though, and Ireland have a chance through Nash, who gives a nice show and go, looking to burst through a half gap.

03:42 PM GMT


It turns out that Irish handling wasn’t quite so slick as it looked. The ball came forward off Henshaw before Baird flicked it on, so Wales win a scrum.

It seems justice has been served as that Gibson-Park offload looked highly suspicious.

03:41 PM GMT


Superb handling from Ireland on the right flank, with the ball fizzed through the hands of two or three players before Nash has a go.

There’s no way through the last man, but the Ireland recycle and have acres of space out left. Akee takes in midfield and can pump the ball on, but he decides to go it alone, crashing through two tacklers to score.

03:39 PM GMT

58 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Ireland show slick hands in the midfield, with Aki drawing defenders in through his sheer gravity and looking to get his arms free. After making headway up the left flank, space opens up for Lowe who flips a neat, nearly forward, offload to Gibson-Park.

03:37 PM GMT

56 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Gorge North gets himself stuck in the mix, but Wales look slightly out of ideas, zigzagging back and forth with Ireland keeping their discipline.

Farrell’s men win a penalty and pump the air in celebration. They’ve weathered a momentary Welsh storm and come out the other side unscathed.

Crowley kicks to touch inside the Welsh half.

03:35 PM GMT

55 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Ireland’s clearance is not a convincing one though, and Wales play from the line-out straight back into the Ireland’s 22.

Gatland’s men keep it narrow, looking to bust through the guts of the Irish defence. The pace has slowed though, and Ireland look well-set.

03:34 PM GMT

54 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Wales set the maul, but Beirne makes a nuisance of himself, smothering Elliot Dee and turning the ball over.

A timely intervention from the returning second row.

03:32 PM GMT

53 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

The Irish faces look worried for the first time in the match, but Frawley shows his Gaelic football skills to gather a high ball and the play comes to a halt. Wales were playing under advantage though and they kick the penalty to the corner. Time for another line-out, and Beirne is back just in time.

03:31 PM GMT

51 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Again, Ireland infringe at the line-out. This time for McCarthy making contact with the Welsh man in the air.

Wales go short to the front of the line-out and burrow up the right flank, playing under advantage with Ireland off-side.

03:30 PM GMT

51 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Wales change their front-row and will need the replacements to hit the ground running if they are to retain their momentum.

03:29 PM GMT

49 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Some monstrous collisions here. First McCarthy goes on the charge for Ireland, then Aki engages in a one-on-one wrestle with North.

After a Frawley cross-kick, Ireland look for a glimmer of space up the right flank but can’t find it. They whizz the ball back left but the ball goes to ground.

It’s been a breathless 10 minutes, and both teams will welcome a quick break as van der Flier goes off for an HIA.

03:27 PM GMT

48 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Wales have it again though, and the ball is still in play. Gaps start to appear in the Irish defence which Wales look to exploit, but a handling error let’s them down.

Ireland regather and Gibson-Park puts boot to ball, sending it high into the air.

03:26 PM GMT

46 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

Frawley dummies a kick before putting in a cute chip and chase. Wales gather though and take advantage of a lack of Irish numbers in the backfield to kick long through the No 8 Wainwright. Sensational vision and footballing skills from the big man.

Ireland scramble back and clear their lines.

03:24 PM GMT

45 min: IRE 17 WAL 7

The game has suddenly come to life, with Cameron Winnett shaping to run from inside his own 22.

He changes his mind quickly though with burly Irishmen fast-approaching. Some poor soul has lost a boot which has been launched up-field. And the ball stays in field. It’s a breathless passage of play, which could suit Wales nicely.

03:21 PM GMT


There’s no clear grounding for Wales, but because of Beirne’s illegal change in bind, Wales are granted a penalty try - with a yellow card for Beirne to boot. That’s quite a turn of events for Wales.

03:20 PM GMT

42 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

Beirne may see a card here too for illegally changing his bind. That would certainly change the complexion of the game at this point early in the second half.

03:19 PM GMT

42 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

It’s going very well indeed here for Wales, who edge closer and closer to the line before bundling over.

There’s no great celebration, and the ball looks as if it might have been held up. The officials say they don’t have a grounding so they go upstairs to check with the TMO.

03:18 PM GMT

42 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

There’s a break in play after Cameron Winnett cops one on the head. His own team mate’s knee was to blame.

Wales kick for the corner and attempt to get their own driving maul rumbling forwards.

03:16 PM GMT

41 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

Wales launch an aerial assault of their own through Costello, but the kick is too long.

After Ireland exit, Wales run it back showing they have come out to play this half, and they win a penalty.

Piardi has a stern word with O’Mahony for playing a man without the ball at the ruck. The experienced Irish captain pleads his innocence but is met with short shrift.

03:14 PM GMT

40 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

And we’re off again.

Wales kick deep left with Ireland soaring into the air to take on the 22. Beirne breaks away briefly and Ireland recycle, lofting the ball over to Akee in space. The centre barrels forward before his side take to the skies with a high bomb.

Wales gather and play just inside Ireland’s half.

03:13 PM GMT

Half-time verdict

It says something when it is 17-0 at half time and it feels like Ireland haven’t really got out of third gear. Wales defended bravely in that first half, but they had to. Ireland are operating off 70 per cent possession and roughly the same in terms of territory.

It took a little while for their statistical dominance to translate into points. Dan Sheehan’s try midway through the half, from a rolling maul - after Wales had successfully held one up a few minutes earlier - was no more than the hosts deserved.

And a superb offload from Calvin Nash, straying off his flank to put his fellow wing James Lowe over in the corner, has given the result an air of inevitability.

Wales have already coughed up 10 penalties and lost two of their four scrums. If it keeps going like this, the floodgates will surely open at some point.

It’s hard to know what Warren Gatland’s team can do to stem the tide, although not knocking on or getting turned over when they do have a rare foray into enemy territory would help.

At the moment, Ireland’s grand slam is very much on track.

03:06 PM GMT

Ireland dominate the territory

Wales didn’t enter the Irish 22 until the 36th minute of the half. They will have to assert more territorial pressure in the second half if they are to get on the scoresheet.

03:01 PM GMT

Wales ill-discipline proves costly

It was always going to be tough but Wales haven’t helped themselves. Grim penalty count, nine in the first half alone. They only conceded nine in the first two matches of the tournament combined. The scrum pressure isn’t a shock but the sloppy handling errors in attack and at one promising lineout are soul destroying.

02:59 PM GMT

The Welsh choir in full chorus

A lot of chat about the Aviva atmosphere in recent weeks. It’s been alright so far considering the one-sided nature of the contest. Wales fans struck up Hymns and Arias a few minutes ago, leading the Irish to respond with Fields of Athenry. But the crowd then let themselves down with a Mexican Wave.

02:58 PM GMT

39 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

Ireland look to play out from deep inside their own half, stringing the phases together as the clock goes into the red.

The Welsh defence is good though, and Ireland decide they’ve had enough for one half, knocking the ball into touch.

At the break, Ireland lead by 17 points.

02:57 PM GMT

37 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

Off the subsequent line-out, North gets a chance to run, batting away the tackle with a big hand-off.

Again though, Wales give away a penalty at the breakdown. But Ireland suffer further problems of their own at the line-out, granting Wales a free kick.

Wales show fleet footwork with Dyer coming of his wing to bust through, but the ball goes to ground off Adam Beard, and Ireland have a scrum.

George North fends off the tacklers
George North fends off the tacklers - REUTERS/LORRAINE O'SULLIVAN

02:54 PM GMT

35 min: IRE 17 WAL 0

Wales win a penalty from the re-start. Given the growing gulf on the scoresheet, they throw caution to the wind and drive the ball to the corner.

On their first entry into the Ireland’s 22, Ireland rush up hard with van der Flier hurtling into the rib cage of one poor Welsh attacker. Aki gets over the ball in a powerful position but he is judged to have gone off his feet. Wales have another chance.

02:51 PM GMT


Ireland go coast to coast, to score through James Lowe.

After good scramble defence by Wales out left, Ireland keep cool heads with Jack Crowley using a three on two in the wide channel to whip the ball across. After a a couple of neat off-loads, Lowe has an easy stroll into the corner.

Crowley, who continues to grow in confidence, knocks over the conversion from wide left.

ames Lowe of Ireland scores his team's second try
ames Lowe of Ireland scores his team's second try - Getty Images/Charles McQuillan

02:49 PM GMT

30 min: IRE 10 WAL 0

Ireland edge up the line with waves of attackers. Wales are defending with their lives, stifling Ireland’s efforts out right.

02:46 PM GMT

29 min: IRE 10 WAL 0

Wales keep hold of the ball at the scrum, under considerable pressure from Oncoming Irish defenders.

Williams box kicks to Lowe, who carries up to just short of the Wales 22.

Ireland look to mount another attack.

02:45 PM GMT

26 min: IRE 10 WAL 0

Ireland get the scrum marching forward, with Gibson-Park breaking from the base and using his footwork to race away.

He feeds Henshaw out left who pops to Lowe. The galloping winger is stopped in his tracks though, and the ball goes forward into Henshaw as he tries to rip it off his own player. Wales scrum on their own five.

Jamison Gibson-Park makes a break
Jamison Gibson-Park makes a break - PA/Brian Lawless

02:43 PM GMT

26 min: IRE 10 WAL 0

Another silly infringement from Wales - this time for delaying the put-in at the scrum. Wales win a free-kick and opt for a scrum of their own. It’s central and just inside the Wales 10.

02:42 PM GMT

24 min: IRE 10 WAL 0

Ireland win another line-out after Adams is knocked into touch under a high bomb.

Farrell’s men go to the tail again, but again the throw is slightly long. Gibson-Park races away like a terrier to retrieve the ball under the threat of oncoming Welsh bodies, but the scrum-half knocks on. Wales scrum.

02:41 PM GMT

23 min: IRE 10 WAL 0

Ireland win a penalty of the re-start as Wales end up on the wrong side. It looks like there might have been a bit of wizardry at play from O’Mahony who appears to have pulled the unwitting Welsh defender into the ruck. Ireland fans will chalk that up to experience.

Crowley clears to touch just short of half-way.

02:39 PM GMT


As the backs pile in, Wales’ bold maul defence creaks under the pressure and Ireland flop over the line through Sheehan.

Crowley adds the extras from out left, and Wales stretch their lead to 10 points.

02:37 PM GMT

20 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Porter drives Assireatti back at the scrum though, and Ireland kick to the corner for another drive for the line. Gibson-Park summons the backline reinforcements.

02:36 PM GMT

18 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Ireland lose their first line-out of the tournament with a loose throw to the back that escapes the finger tips of O’Mahony. Remarkably, they had 26 out of 26 until this point. Wales scrum.

02:35 PM GMT

17 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

But Wales’ scramble defence is superb, forcing Lowe into touch. Despite all this Ireland possession, Gatland will be delighted with his side’s defensive effort so far.

Wales scramble well in defence
Wales scramble well in defence - Getty Images/Ramsey Cardy

02:33 PM GMT

16 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Wales ill-discipline costs them at the lineout - this time it is for not keeping the distance.

Ireland seize the momentum at the scrum and play under a penalty advantage thanks to a powerful drive from Furlong.

Farrell’s men have the bit between their teeth now, stretching Wales first left and then right through a chip from Crowley.

02:32 PM GMT

14 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Ireland go narrow off the top of the line out before folding out into midfield.

Porter shows his surprisingly agile dancing feet in midfield, then Frawley sprays the ball wide to the right flank.

The Welsh defence gives Ireland a taste of their own medicine though, winning a breakdown penalty with Ireland a little isolated out wide.

02:30 PM GMT

12 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Wales hold on at the scrum and clear to half-way to give Frawley his first chance at a run.

As Ireland carry forward, Wales go off their feet at the breakdown granting Ireland another shot for the corner. The penalty count is starting to mount up here against Gatland’s men.

02:28 PM GMT

10 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Wales repel the initial Irish advance as the backs pile in to add their ballast. Farrell’s men get their maul back moving, but Wales manage to snaffle them and hold the ball up. Superb work from Wales, who will have spent much of this week working out how to nullify this threat.

02:26 PM GMT

8 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Ireland play it cute with a one-two between Gibson-Park and Sheehan at the line-out, with the big hooker bundling through the upcoming defender. Ireland win another penalty and kick for the corner. With Ireland’s driving maul, this could be dangerous.

02:25 PM GMT

7 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

James Lowe wallops the ball back down field off the kick-off, but Costelow looks to run it back.

Again, Ireland get over the ball with lightning speed at the break-down, this time through Porter, and they win another penalty.

Wales must get there quicker to avoid this becoming a serious problem. Ireland clear to touch around half-way.

02:23 PM GMT

6 min: IRE 3 WAL 0

Crowley makes no mistake, and the first points belong to Andy Farrell’s side.

02:23 PM GMT

5 min: IRE 0 WAL 0

Wales look to hold Lowe up but the big winger pumps his legs to get to ground, making considerable ground as he does so. Tompkins is penalised for going to high on Lowe, and Ireland win a penalty.

Crowley lines up one from right in front. This should be fairly straightforward.

Ireland's Jack Crowley kicks a penalty
Ireland's Jack Crowley kicks a penalty - PA/Brian Lawless

02:21 PM GMT

4 min: IRE 0 WAL 0

After a phase off the line-out, Wales flash the ball across to North who looks to use his feet to make yards. At the next breakdown, Aki latches onto the ball and cannot be moved. Ireland win a penalty and clear up the left touchline to the opposition 10.

02:20 PM GMT

3 min: IRE 0 WAL 0

Ireland attack with chutzpah, using waves of attackers to break down the Welsh defence. Wales remain stolid though and force the knock-on. Furlong is deemed offside, and Wales clear to touch half-way between the Ireland 10 and the 22 for their first line-out of the game.

02:18 PM GMT

2 min: IRE 0 WAL 0

Early danger side from Ireland. Wales blitz to cut off the overlap from Bundee Aki, but Ireland recycle and release Henshaw down the left wing. He kicks ahead as he is tackled but the ball goes dead. Goal line drop-out Wales.

02:17 PM GMT

1 min: IRE 0 WAL 0

And we’re off! Jack Crowley gets things under way, kicking deep, before Wales clear to half way. Ireland then crash up into midfield.

02:16 PM GMT

The stage is set

Kick off is moments away, with Andrea Piardi becoming the first Italian to referee a six nations game. A big moment for him, and for Italian rugby.

02:12 PM GMT

The anthems

As ever, a rousing rendition from Wales. Now it’s Irelands turn, with a stony-faced Andy Farrell muttering the words under his breath.

Kick off is next!

02:11 PM GMT

Ireland confident about their chances

Not saying the Irish are confident but the magazine salesman on my way into the Aviva was encouraging punters to buy copies on the basis they could be part of a ‘grand slam set’. Would be an upset of massive proportions if Wales could pull off a first win here since that World Cup warm-up match in 2015.

02:10 PM GMT

Damp atmosphere at the Aviva

Hard to remember a more subdued atmosphere around Wales in Dublin, with everyone writing them off. Ireland being 21-point favourites feels about right. It’s another huge development moment for the likes of Alex Mann, Sam Costelow and Cam Winnett.

02:06 PM GMT

The teams are out

Peter O’Mahony leads Ireland out onto the pitch at the Avivia, nearly 12 years to the day from his international debut.

Back then, Daffyd Jenkins, the Wales captain, was still in primary school...

The anthems are up next!

02:04 PM GMT

England make surprise selection decision

Just a reminder to tune in to our coverage later today as England take on Scotland.

Have England made the right decision in dropping reliable full-back Freddie Steward for Northampton’s George Furbank?

Finn Russell has admitted his surprise at Borthwick’s choice, suggesting it signals a different approach from England.

Listen to the Telegraph Six Nations podcast for our columnist’s breakdown of England’s selection decisions.

02:00 PM GMT

Party atmosphere in Dublin

Irish fans in full voice outside the Aviva Stadium
Irish fans in full voice outside the Aviva Stadium - Getty Images/Sam Barnes
Travelling Welsh fans will be hoping their side can cause an upset in Dublin
Travelling Welsh fans will be hoping their side can cause an upset in Dublin - Getty Images/Sam Barnes
reland supporter Brisa Orr, age 11, from Carrickfergus, Antrim
Ireland supporter Brisa Orr, age 11, from Carrickfergus, Antrim - Getty Images/Sam Barnes

01:55 PM GMT

Warren Gatland: ‘Wales can expose Ireland’s weak points’

I can’t remember feeling so pumped going into a Test match, writes Warren Gatland.

There is no doubt that Ireland are a world-class team, and they are world class when they have got everything on their own terms. We have just got to make sure that we make everything uncomfortable for them.

We’ve got to be physical and get in their faces and put pressure on individuals who we want to target – not illegally – but put them under some pressure, and we have to be accurate with our set-piece.

For us it is important that we start well, and we go after some of their players in terms of putting them under pressure. Because if we let Ireland have it their way, they are fantastic at keeping the ball in your half and keeping it for long phases, creating space and putting people into holes, sweeping around with their backs and shortening opposition defences up.

Read Gatland’s full column here.

01:50 PM GMT

Put your questions to Wayne Barnes

Are you confused by what goes in the scrum? Or do you have any thoughts about how head injuries are managed? Well put your questions to World Cup final referee Wayne Barnes.

Barnes will be hosting a live Q&A for Telegraph readers at 11am on Monday, Feb 26.

Follow the link here to leave a question for the English referee, and make sure to tune in to the Q&A on Monday.

01:42 PM GMT

Join the conversation in the comments section

Rugby reporter Charles Richardson will be answering your questions in the comments section.

Can Wales cause an upset, or will the Irish juggernaut plough on towards a Grand Slam? Have your say below!

01:39 PM GMT

Ireland hand test debut to full-back

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has challenged Test rookie Ciaran Frawley to “prove a point” after handing him a long-awaited full Ireland debut in place of the injured Hugo Keenan.

Versatile Leinster back Frawley received his first call-up in the autumn of 2021 but has so far been restricted to 44 minutes of international action across two appearances from the bench.

The 26-year-old slots in for Keenan, who sustained a knee issue in the 36-0 round-two win over Italy.

Peter O’Mahony returns to captain the side with Bundee Aki, Tadhg Beirne, Tadhg Furlong, Jamison Gibson-Park and Josh van der Flier all recalled to the starting lineup.

O’Mahony was injured for the last match but takes over the captaincy from Caelan Doris, who remains in the loose forward trio despite injury concerns earlier this week.

Speaking about handing Frawley his starting debut, Farrell said: “The versatility that Frawls has got has always probably earmarked him for a bench spot but he’s always been waiting for this chance.

“His skillset is fantastic and it’s a big week for him so it will be a test of his temperament but he’s playing in a good side and I’m sure he’ll take his chance.”

Warren Gatland has made a solitary change to the Wales side who lost to England, with fit-again Sam Costelow returning at fly-half instead of Ioan Lloyd.

There are further opportunities for newcomers Cameron Winnett and Alex Mann, while Cardiff back-row forward Mackenzie Martin is set for his Test debut off the bench.

“There has been a lot said about us being underdogs, but that is not a motivation for us,” said Gatland. “The motivation is the pressure we are putting on ourselves to get better from game one and two.”

01:25 PM GMT

The teams


15-Ciaran Frawley, 14-Calvin Nash, 13-Robbie Henshaw, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-James Lowe, 10-Jack Crowley, 9-Jamison Gibson-Park, 1-Andrew Porter, 2-Dan Sheehan, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 4-Joe McCarthy, 5-Tadhg Beirne, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 7-Josh van der Flier, 8-Caelan Doris Replacements: 16-Ronan Kelleher, 17-Cian Healy, 18-Oli Jager, 19-James Ryan, 20-Ryan Baird, 21-Jack Conan, 22-Conor Murray, 23-Stuart McCloskey


15-Cameron Winnett, 14-Josh Adams, 13-George North, 12-Nick Tompkins, 11-Rio Dyer, 10-Sam Costelow, 9-Tomos Williams, 1-Gareth Thomas, 2-Elliot Dee, 3-Keiron Assiratti, 4-Dafydd Jenkins, 5-Adam Beard, 6-Alex Mann, 7-Tommy Reffell, 8-Aaron Wainwright Replacements: 16-Ryan Elias, 17-Corey Domachowski, 18-Dillon Lewis, 19-Will Rowlands, 20-Mackenzie Martin, 21-Kieran Hardy, 22-Ioan Lloyd, 23-Mason Grady Referee: Andrea Piardi

01:21 PM GMT

Ireland look to make it three from three

Hello and welcome to today’s coverage of the Six Nations as Ireland take on Wales in Dublin.

Ireland have looked unstoppable so far this series as they continue their bid to become the first team to win back-to-back Grand Slams in Six Nations history.

Andy Farrell’s side have been in impressive form so far, outgunning France to win 38-17 in their opening fixture before easing to a 39-0 victory over Italy two weeks ago.

Ireland are on a national record run of 17 successive wins in home Test matches, while they could become only the second nation, after England, to win 11 successive games in the history of the tournament.

They face up against a Wales side on a worrisome run of form, having lost nine out of their last 10 matches, who they have beaten in six of the last seven meetings.

Wales’ title ambitions are over after a narrow 27-26 loss to Scotland and a 16-14 loss to England two weeks ago in which they led for the best part of 70 minutes. But head coach Warren Gatland has made clear they plan to cause an upset today.

They face an uphill battle though, having not won a Six Nations fixture in Dublin in 12 years.

“We know how good a side they are,” Gatland said. “It is going to be a huge challenge for us but you have got to embrace that, you have got to be excited about that.”

Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony dismissed suggestions that Wales represent a potential “banana skin” for Ireland, underscoring the fact that his side are taking nothing for granted.

“There is transition but it’s the Welsh 15 coming tomorrow, it’s no one else and I know from experience they’re an unbelievably proud nation and they play big and earn the jersey,” he said. “That’s what we’ll 100 per cent be expecting tomorrow.”