Late Irish Try Brings Heartache to Wales

SIX NATIONS: Ireland 37-27 Wales

Jacob Stockdale plucked the ball out of the air on half-way in the final move of the match to intercept a Welsh pass that could have led to a match winning score, but instead gave the Irish winger his second try of the game.

It meant Alun Wyn Jones' side left the Aviva Stadium without anything despite hanging on the coat tails of a Grand Slam chasing Irish side, eventually going down to a 37-27 defeat. It leaves them with one win from three games in the championships with home games against Italy and France to come.

Leigh Halfpenny have Wales the perfect start with a long range penalty in the opening minutes, but Ireland hit back with the first of Stockdale's brace to hit the front. It helped the Welsh cause that Johnny Sexton was off target with two early penalties and the first conversion and most of the early pressure came from the home side.

But Wales responded magnificently when they got their hands on the ball and after a burst from Aaron Shingler, Gareth Davies picked up a bouncing ball before side-stepping his way through the remnants of the Irish defensive line to score a try at the posts that Halfpenny duly converted.

Halfpenny hit the mark again on the half-hour after Rob Kearney had been caught on camera kicking the ball out of the hands of Dan Biggar and Wales led 13-5. But by the break the Irish had edged themselves in front with a Sexton penalty and a try on the stroke of half-time by Bundee Aki that Sexton improved to make it 15-13 at the end of the half.
It took the Irish a mere four minutes after the re-start to increase their lead when back row man Dan Leavy burst over. Sexton added the extras, but couldn't improve prop Cian Healy's close range strike wide out on the right after 54 minutes.

That try brought up the try bonus-point and gave the Irish a 14 point lead. Wales were still struggling to get possession, but always looked dangerous when they were able to go through the phases.

Some great aerial plan by Biggar, and some neat footwork from Steff Evans, allowed Wales to finally make some headway in the Irish half and when the ball was released, Scott Williams and Josh Navidi fee Aaron Shingler for his first Wales try.

Halfpenny's superb touchline conversion made it a one score game with 16 minutes left on the clock. It was all to play for as Gatland rang the changes off his bench.

The match stats at this stage were very much in Ireland' s favour - Tackles made: Ire 70-144 Wal Possession: Ire 73%-27% Wal - but the result was still within Wales' grasp.

A thrilling finale saw Conor Murray kick a penalty off the upright and then Wales conjure space on the left for twinkle-toed Evans to race in for a try that Halfpenny converted to make it 30-27 with four minutes to play.

Wales won a penalty in their 22 and kicked to half-way for a line-out. They did all they could to work an opening and a long, cut out pass to try to release two players on the right was intercepted by Stockdale, who ran in a fifth try for the home side.

Murray converted and Joe Schmidt's record of never having lost a game in Dublin continued. For Gatland there was no celebration for his 100th game in charge of Wales.

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