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2018 Six Nations Preview: Ireland vs Wales {24-2-18}

Wales will be looking to keep their Six Nations hopes alive when they travel to tackle Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

Having lost 12-6 to England in the previous round, another loss would all but virtually extinguish their hopes. Their chances have been boosted by the return of the British and Irish Lions backline trio of Leigh Halfpenny, Liam Williams and Dan Biggar.

Ireland, in contrast have been significantly weakened by the losses of Tadgh Furlong and Robbie Henshaw to injury. Both are massive to the Emerald Green cause. Chris Farrell starts at outside centre and Andrew Porter is handed the number three jersey.

Wales will be looking to their dynamic loose trio and Alun Wyn Jones to slow down Irish ball and force Johnny Sexton and company to kick to their dangerous back three of Williams, Steff Evans and Halfpenny who can launch counter-attacks from deep.

Ireland will depend on their halfback pairing of Sexton and Connor Murray to intelligently and efficiently control proceedings as usual with their tactical kicking. Halfpenny’s positional sense is very good, so the Irish kicking game will have to be accurate.

Wales coach Warren Gatland has already said that his team will be looking to put pressure on both Ireland half-backs.

The sides’ recent meetings have been highly competitive. Only three of the last ten games have seen double-margin victories. And this one is equally difficult to call.

Previous results:

2017: Wales won 22-9 in Cardiff
2016: 16-16 draw in Dublin
2015: Wales won 16-10 in Dublin
2015: Ireland won 35-21 in Cardiff
2015: Wales won 23-16 in Cardiff
2014: Ireland won 26-3 in Dublin
2013: Ireland won 30-22 in Cardiff
2012: Wales won 23-21 in Dublin
2011: Wales won 22-10 in Wellington
2011: Wales won 19-13 in Cardiff
2010: Ireland won 27-12 in Dublin

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Devin Toner, 4 James Ryan, 3 Andrew Porter, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 John Ryan, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Fergus McFadden

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 George North

Date: Saturday, February 24
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)



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