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Ireland holds firm for a victory over Wales

At the Aviva Stadium, Ireland's formidable squad continued their march toward a potential Grand Slam in the Six Nations, demonstrating tenacity and resilience in a 31-7 victory over Wales. The game, which was touted as a mismatch in the run-up, turned into a testament to Ireland's enduring class and Wales' spirited resistance.

A tale of two halves

The pre-match narratives had set the stage for an Irish dominance, with the home side heavily favored against a Welsh team described as transitioning and less experienced. Ireland lived up to expectations in the first half, leading 17-0 at the break after a display of complete control. However, the second half told a different story as Wales, benefitting from Tadhg Beirne's sin-binning and a penalty try, narrowed the gap to 17-7 and threatened to mount a comeback.

Irish resilience shines through

Despite the Welsh resurgence, Ireland's character was on full display. Head coach Andy Farrell praised his team's tenacious spirit, stating, "There was all sorts of stuff going on in that game... But we stuck at it and broke them down in the end." This resilience saw Ireland through a tricky second half, allowing them to emerge with an 18th consecutive home victory.

Gatland and Farrell weigh in

Warren Gatland, coaching Wales, felt the 24-point margin did not accurately reflect the balance of the game, a sentiment Farrell playfully contested in the post-match press conference. Nevertheless, Farrell acknowledged the importance of his bench's impact, highlighting the vital roles played by seasoned players like Jack Conan, Cian Healy, and Conor Murray.

Frawley steps up

With regular full-back Hugo Keenan sidelined due to injury, Ciaran Frawley stepped into the starting XV. Though his selection raised some eyebrows given his limited experience at full-back, Frawley delivered a poised performance, complete with a try that eased Irish nerves in the second half.

What's next?

Ireland's path to a consecutive Grand Slam sees them next face an England team reeling from a loss to Scotland. Steve Borthwick's English side will be eager to disrupt Ireland's streak, promising another compelling chapter in this year's Six Nations narrative. As Farrell reflected on the victory and the road ahead, he remained pragmatic, acknowledging the challenge posed by every opponent: "We wanted to be better today, but the opposition always has a say in that and Wales certainly did." The clash between these two rugby powerhouses was a showcase of Ireland's winning mentality and Wales' resilience, setting the stage for an electrifying remainder of the Six Nations tournament.