SIX NATIONS: Ireland and Wales battle to draw in Dublin

Ireland's Andrew Trimble (centre left) is tackled Wales' Taulupe Faletau
Ireland's Andrew Trimble (centre left) is tackled Wales' Taulupe Faletau

IRELAND 16 WALES 16

Johnny Sexton kicked a penalty six minutes from time to preserve injury-hit Ireland’s unbeaten RBS 6 Nations home record under Joe Schmidt and stall Wales’ stirring fightback.

A 16-16 draw - the first between Ireland and Wales since 1991 - meant that both sides’ Grand Slam hopes floundered at the first hurdle, yet they played with such fearsome commitment and intensity to still suggest strong title ambitions.

Ireland led 13-0 at the Aviva Stadium after 30 minutes through scrum-half Conor Murray’s try and eight points from Sexton, but Wales hit back through a Taulupe Faletau touchdown, plus three Rhys Priestland penalties and a conversion after he replaced injured World Cup hero Dan Biggar.

Wales led by three points with time running out, but Sexton - as he has done on so many previous occasions - came up trumps when it mattered and ensured that Ireland avoided defeat.

A draw was arguably the fairest result, given that both teams did their utmost to batter each other into submission and neither deserved to taste defeat.

Ireland: S Zebo; A Trimble, J Payne, R Henshaw, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, N White; D Toner, M McCarthy; CJ Stander, T O’Donnell, J Heaslip.

Replacements:S Cronin for Best 75 mins, J Cronin, T Furlong for White 63 mins, D Ryan for McCarthy 63 mins, R Ruddock for O’Donnell 48 mins, K Marmion, I Madigan for Sexton 75 mins, D Kearney for Earls 71 mins.

Wales: Liam Williams; G North, J Davies, J Roberts, T James; D Biggar, G Davies; R Evans, S Baldwin, S Lee; L Charteris, AW Jones; S Warburton (capt), J Tipuric, T Faletau.

Replacements: K Owens for Baldwin 63 mins, G Jenkins for Evans 53 mins, T Francis for Lee 58 mins, B Davies for Charteris, D Lydiate, Lloyd Williams for Webb 71 mins, R Priestland for Biggar 21 mins, A Cuthbert

Ref J Garces