Wales held off 14-man Eire to get their Six Nations marketing campaign off to a profitable begin with a 21-16 victory on the Principality Stadium.
Louis Rees-Zammit scored a attempt on his match debut because the Gloucester winger pounced halfway by way of the second half, destroying Irish hopes of a well-known overcome adversity after flanker Peter O’Mahony’s 14th-minute purple card.
Munster ahead O’Mahony was despatched off following a reckless shoulder-led hit to Wales prop Tomas Francis’ head, however Eire nonetheless led till Rees-Zammit struck.
Eire additionally misplaced lock James Ryan to a failed head harm evaluation, and skipper Johnny Sexton’s afternoon ended 11 minutes from time when Wales flanker Justin Tipuric’s knee unintentionally caught him within the head.
However Sexton’s eight factors and a attempt by lock Tadhg Beirne gave Eire scent of a primary Six Nations victory in Cardiff since 2013, and so they mounted relentless late stress earlier than alternative Billy Burns missed contact with a penalty within the closing seconds that will have given his group an attacking line-out.
George North’s 42nd landing for his nation, three Leigh Halfpenny penalties and a conversion in the end broke Eire, regardless of a late Burns penalty.
It meant that Wales boss Wayne Pivac might have fun only a fourth victory from 11 Exams since he succeeded Warren Gatland.
Eire, although, should regroup rapidly – mentally and bodily – and dirt themselves down for a Dublin showdown towards resurgent France in simply seven days’ time.
Pivac recalled Ospreys flanker Dan Lydiate for his first Wales look in additional than two years, however Josh Adams and Liam Williams have been each suspended, whereas Rees-Zammit and centre Johnny Williams made their Six Nations bows.
Sexton recovered from a hamstring downside to win his 96th cap, and there was a begin for flanker Josh Van Der Flier, who changed an injured Caelan Doris in a reshuffled Eire back-row.
Wales opened the scoring after 5 minutes when Halfpenny kicked a short-range penalty, however Lydiate’s worldwide return ended quickly afterwards.
He required remedy to his proper knee after showing to lose his footing, and he was compelled out of the competition, being changed by Josh Navidi.
Eire, although, suffered a far better blow simply 4 minutes after Lydiate’s exit when O’Mahony was red-carded.
Referee Wayne Barnes had no alternative however to ship him off following an inexplicable lack of self-discipline, and it meant Eire confronted a mountain of Himalayan proportions.
Wales then doubled their benefit courtesy of a second Halfpenny penalty, this time following a excessive deal with by Sexton on Johnny Williams.
Williams went off for a head harm evaluation when he tried to deal with Garry Ringrose, and Ryan additionally wanted an HIA shortly after, with Nick Tompkins occurring for Wales and Iain Henderson taking Ryan’s place.
In one other blow for Eire, Ryan didn’t rejoin the motion, whereas Williams was additionally compelled completely out of the sport.
Regardless of Eire’s double setback, they rallied impressively, dominating territory and possession as Sexton reduce the deficit by kicking a 40-metre penalty.
It was a powerful response by the guests, and Sexton hauled them degree 5 minutes earlier than half-time by way of a second profitable penalty.
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And it bought even higher for Eire as Wales continued to wrestle, with centre Robbie Henshaw dismissing two tried tackles, linking with Van Der Flier, earlier than Beirne touched down.
Sexton’s conversion made it 13-6 on the break, and there was extra woe for Wales as scrum-half Tomos Williams limped off with what gave the impression to be a hamstring downside, and Gareth Davies changed him.
Wales wanted a response, and it was centre North who delivered after he gathered Navidi’s go and broke clear regardless of shut consideration from three defenders.
Halfpenny missed the conversion, however Wales have been again within the contest following an error-strewn spell, then Rees-Zammit utilized a superb one-handed end earlier than Halfpenny transformed from the touchline.
The total-back added a 3rd penalty with 15 minutes left, and Wales had lastly discovered a technique to see themselves dwelling forward of subsequent Saturday’s Murrayfield conflict towards Scotland, regardless of Eire’s late rally.