Ireland defeat Wales to go to Rugby World Cup as number one ranked Nation

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney goes over for the opening try against Wales at the Aviva Stadium
Ireland fullback Rob Kearney goes over for the opening try against Wales at the Aviva Stadium
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IRELAND 19 WALES 10

Ireland completed their World Cup preparation matches with an impressive victory over Wales in Dublin on Saturday afternoon, a victory which sends them to Japan as the World Ranked number one side.

Joe Schmidt will not make much of that, but this was without doubt the best performance from the men in green as they eye that opening pool A match against Scotland in 15 days time at the Rugby World Cup.

It was an opportunityfor Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton to prove his World Cup fitness in what would be both countries' final warm-up game - kicking two from three conversions and coming through unscathed before being replaced on 64 minutes by Jack Carty.

The Leinster talisman has battled thumb and leg injuries all summer, missing the previous three games over the summer period, but he returned 15 days before a World Cup opener against Scotland in Japan on September 22.

Captain Rory Best made his final Aviva Stadium appearance ahead of his post-World Cup retirement, and it was also the perfect Dublin farewell for Ireland head coach Schmidt.

Ireland captain Rory Best takes his bow at the Aviva Stadium during his final home game against Wales

Ireland captain Rory Best takes his bow at the Aviva Stadium during his final home game against Wales

Wales showed 15 changes from the side beaten by Ireland 22-17 in Cardiff last weekend, with boss Warren Gatland parading big names such as skipper Alun Wyn Jones, wing George North, centre Jonathan Davies and flanker Justin Tipuric.

The Welsh dominated possession in the first quarter after fullback Leigh Halfpenny had missed a second penalty, but the Irish defence frustrated them.

Ireland saw two lineouts stolen by the Welsh, but again the visitors were unable to capitalise.

The Aviva Stadium crowed were on their feet, and the Irish team were stirred when a strong break from centre Bundee Aki that gave his team some belated territorial control, and they prospered immediately.

Dan Biggar makes a break for Wales during the game against Ireland

Dan Biggar makes a break for Wales during the game against Ireland

Ireland were patient with ball in hand close to Wales' line, then possession was moved wide and full-back Rob Kearney finished off for an impressive try that Sexton converted.

Wales should have gone ahead 11 minutes before the break when Biggar intercepted a Sexton pass on halfway and racedclear, but he was tracked and then caught by Ireland centre Robbie Henshaw, keeping him from grounding the ball as Kearney aided with support.

But Wales only had to wait another two minutes for their opening try as centre Hadleigh Parkes crashed over from close range and Halfpenny's conversion made it 10-7.

Rhys Patchell did not return to the action, with Biggar confirmed as a permanent replacement as Wales secured a narrow interval advantage.

Ireland came out pumped for the second half and laid siege to the Welsh line. The pressure would eventually tell as prop Tadhg Furlong rewarded the pack's efforts by driving over. Sexton converted and it was 14-10.

Best got a massive prolonged ovation as he departed on 52 minutes, replaced by Sean Cronin, Schmidt also introducing Iain Henderson and Andrew Porter for Kleyn and Furlong, with Garry Ringrose on for the injured Keith Earls.

Further Irish pressure saw lock James Ryan barge over, referee Mathieu Raynal awarding the try on the pitch, and that did not change on TMO review. Sexton was unable to draw the conversion in at the far post from the right and Ireland's lead was 19-10 as the hour mark approached.

Unlike in the previous weekend in Cardiff, Ireland continued to dominate and some neat hands by Kearney found replacement Ringrose on the flank after 72 minutes but his route was blocked by the Welsh scrambling defence.

With play brought back for a Welsh offisde, Ireland went for touch and the pack put on the drive but the Welsh held firm.

The men in green came again, another penalty to touch, lineout secured, but no way through was found. Welsh replacement Adam Beard was sin-binned for persistent illegal play at the breakdown.

As the clock hit red Ireland still could not get the icing on the cake to an impressive second half display, the last play of the game coming from the Welsh in their own 22.