Jacob Stockdale’s interception of a wayward Aaron Shingler offload on 28 minutes was expertly finished by the Ireland wing to notch his second try of the first-half and establish a 12-point cushion that allowed the Irish to release the pressure valve that had been tightening for the past week.
Well that was just what the doctor ordered for Ireland. A week on from being laid very low by England in a record 57-15 defeat at Twickenham, Joe Schmidt’s team climbed out of their metaphorical sick bed and restore confidence and energy to the World Cup preparations. It was far from perfect but normal service was resumed at the set-piece, in defence and contact intensity after awful performance levels in London. There were plenty of anxious moments as Wales staged a second-half rally but there’s a welcome spring back in the Irish step, three weeks before their World Cup opener against Scotland in Yokohama.
Jack Carty received the man of the match award on his 27th birthday as he made his first Test start but the fly-half was at least matched in his performance by a number of his Irish team-mates as some pride was restored in the green jersey. Loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne had an outstanding first half before he was removed for a Head Injury Assessment on 45 minutes and did not return while hooker Niall Scannell also impressed in place of Rory Best.
Romain Poite disallowed an Ireland second-half try after Bundee Aki took out an aerial James Davies, effecting the turnover that led to Garry Ringrose touching down in the corner. The Cardiff crowd bayed for a card but Poite held his nerve, Aki had remained grounded and was just guilty of poor timing in his tackle, a penalty was adequate punishment. Poite also came down heavily in favour of a dominant Irish scrum, showing replacement Welsh tighthead a yellow card and also awarding the penalty try that proved to be the decisive score.
Wales 10 + 1 free kick Ireland 8
Dave Kilcoyne failed to return from an early second-half Head Injury Assessment, though he may have played his allotted minutes by then in his first start of the summer while Will Addison may have been in the same boat when he was removed just minutes after returning from a blood injury in the 52nd minute.
The moment of truth for the Ireland players as Joe Schmidt finally settles on his 31-man squad for Japan ahead of Monday’s World Cup deadline. Then it’s onto the final game before the September 22 opening game against Scotland, next Saturday’s return fixture with Wales at the Aviva Stadium, when both sides are expected to be at full strength for their respective tournament dress rehearsals. It will also be Joe Schmidt’s final home game in charge before he steps down after the World Cup campaign.
H Amos; O Lane, S Williams, O Watkin, S Evans (J Holmes, 46); J Evans (R Patchell, h-t), A Davies (T Williams, 46); R Carré (R Evans, h-t), R Elias (E Dee, 62), S Lee (L Brown, h-t); A Beard, B Davies (J Ball, 47); A Shingler (A Wainwright, 62), J Davies (S Lee 53-62 - YC scrum replacement), J Navidi - captain.
W Addison (G Ringrose, 42-52 blood & 58); A Conway, C Farrell, B Aki, J Stockdale (D Kearney, h-t); J Carty, K Marmion (L McGrath, 60); D Kilcoyne (A Porter, 45 HIA), N Scannell (R Best, 52), John Ryan (T Furlong, 52); I Henderson, James Ryan (D Toner, 52); T Beirne, P O’Mahony - captain (J Murphy, 60), J Conan.
Romain Poite (France).