IRELAND 10 WALES 16
Iain Henderson booked his world cup place with a man of the match performance against Wales at the Aviva Stadium despite Ireland going down to a six point defeat.
The build up to the game was all about Paul O’Connell’s last home international but he was overshadowed by his second row colleague from Ulster.
Henderson was the only bright spark in an Irish pack that was very much second best for long periods of the game as the scrum creaked, the lineout misfired and Wales were dominated at the breakdown with Justin Tipuric inspirational in stopping the home side getting quick ball.
Wales dominated the opening 15 minutes and were reward when full back Leigh Halfpenny opened the scoring after Ireland hooker Richardt was punished for playing the man without the ball.
The Welsh pack started to dominated and after kicking a penalty to the corner prop Gethin Jenkins was held up following a powerful drive, however Ireland conceded a penalty and from another powerful drive of the lineout flanker Justin Tipuric touched down and Halfpenny converted.
Johnny Sexton got Ireland’s first points with a penalty on 29 minutes after Wales were caught offside in midfield.
Ireland were level at the break following a try from Ulster’s Iain Henderson in first half stoppage time.
It was Ireland’s first sustained period in the Welsh 22 and from a quick tap penalty the lock was able to power over from close range and Sexton’s conversion Sexton levelled the interval score at 10-10.
Sean O’Brien nearly added Ireland’s second try when he barged his way over from a lineout move but he knocked on in the process of grounding the ball.
Wales regained the lead on 63 minutes with a Halfpenny penalty after a long injury delay which saw Keith Earls stretchered off.
Halfpenny extended the Welsh lead with a penalty from straight in front of the posts on 70 minutes and Ireland nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat but hooker Sean Cronin was held up over the line with the final play of the game.
Ireland: R Kearney, D Kearney, L Fitzgerald, R Henshaw, K Earls, J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Strauss, N White, I Henderson, P O’Connell, P O’Mahony, J Murphy, J Heaslip
Replacements: S Cronin for Strauss 50 mins, D Killcoyne for McGrath 60 mins, T Furlong for White 56 mins, D Ryan for Fitzgerald 67 mins, S O’Brien for O’Mahony 51 mins, E Reddan for Murray 63 mins, P Jackson for Sexton 63 mins, F Jones for Earls 63 mins
Wales: L Halfpenny, A Cuthbert, S Williams, J Roberts, G North, D Biggar, R Webb; G Jenkins, K Owens, T Francis, B Davies, A Wyn-Jones, D Lydiate, J Tipuric, T Faletau
Replacements: S Baldwin for Owens 54 mins, P James for Jenkins 46 mins, A Jarvis for Francis 53 mins, L Charteris for Davies 53 mins, J King for Wyn-Jones 72 mins, G Davies for Webb 63 mins, R Priestland for Biggar 63 mins, H Amos for Roberts 60 mins
Ref C Joubert