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