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Six Nations : Preview – Ireland vs Wales {8/2/20}

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Ireland got off to a winning start in Dublin against Scotland on Saturday, but it wasn’t a particularly convincing display from the men in green.

They had to rely on the brilliance of talisman Johnny Sexton who provided all of their 19 points on the day.

Ireland got off to a winning start in Dublin against Scotland on Saturday, but it wasn’t a particularly convincing display from the men in green.

They had to rely on the brilliance of talisman Johnny Sexton who provided all of their 19 points on the day.

The Leinster man lived up to his 17.8 star price tag but his side will have to find better form against a tougher opponent in Wales if he is to get more opportunities to kick from the tee.

Poor discipline from the Scots contributed to Sexton’s points tally come the final whistle but the hard work of CJ Stander at the breakdown was just as important to the home side’s cause, and he is likely to make a similar impact against the Welsh.

Albeit an expensive player at 17.0 stars, in this form he is in contention to add to his collection of man of the match awards and increase his haul of 75 points.

IRELAND
Ireland had to show some defensive resilience to hold on in their Six Nations opener as Scotland pushed them all the way and despite their try line coming under threat right up until the hooter, the Irish were able to come out on top.

It was far from a vintage performance by Ireland but they will be pleased to have earned the victory in Andy Farrell’s first game in charge and they know they have plenty of improvement in them although their defensive effort will have been very pleasing to the new coach.

Caelen Doris has failed to overcome the head knock he suffered last week and will miss out along with Garry Ringrose who could be set for a prolonged spell on the sidelines with a hand injury so Peter O’Mahony and Robbie Henshaw are promoted to the starting XV whilst Keith Earls and Max Deegan are the new faces on the bench.

WALES

    • Wales laid down a marker for the rest of the competition as they overpowered Italy in the first game of their Six Nations defence and last year’s Grand Slam winners will be delighted with the start they made after nilling the Italians.
    • After the 42-0 victory in which Josh Adams bagged a hat-trick, Wales will know much tougher challenges lie in wait starting with this trip to Ireland which will be one of their most difficult tasks of this year’s tournament.
    • Wales have a good dilemma ahead of this game with scrum-half Gareth Davies and centre Gareth Davies both fit enough to come into contention but they will have to settle for a place on the bench with Wayne Pivac making just one change to his starting XV as Nick Tompkins earns a first start at outside centre after a positive debut last week which means George North reverts to the wing and Johnny McNicholl drops to the bench.

Wales have made one change to their starting team to face Ireland in the Six Nations this weekend with Nick Tompkins coming into the line-up.

Tompkins will start at outside centre with George North moving to the wing for the clash in Dublin.

North will line up in an experienced back three alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny whilst Tompkins will partner Hadleigh Parkes in the midfield. Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar continue their partnership at half-back.

Wales have named an unchanged pack with Wyn Jones, Ken Owens and Dillon Lewis in the front-row and Jake Ball lining up alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau feature in the back-row.

“We’ve made just one change after a winning start last weekend,” said Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.

“Nick comes into the side, I thought he played exceptionally well when he came on last week so he deserves the start. George, who played really well last weekend at centre, moves back out to the wing.

“On the bench we have a few players back available. Rhys Carre impressed at the RWC and he comes back in. Adam Beard comes in for Cory Hill who picked up a leg injury earlier this week, Gareth (Davies) is fully fit and Owen Williams comes onto the bench and gives us a bit more cover.

“Momentum is important in the Championship. It was nice to get a good winning start under our belts and hopefully we can build on that through the tournament.”

On the bench, Rhys Carre joins Ryan Elias and Leon Brown as the front-row replacements with Adam Beard and Ross Moriarty completing the forward contingent. Gareth Davies, Owen Williams and Johnny McNicholl provide the backline cover.

KEY STATS

    • Ireland have been winning at HT in 16 of their last 17 home games in the Six Nations.
    • Ireland have lost one of their last 17 Six Nations home games.
    • Ireland have won by a margin of at least 10 points in six of their last nine home matches against Wales in the Six Nations.
    • There has been a total of at least 42 points scored in six of Wales’ last eight matches.
    • Wales have won each of their last eight Six Nations matches.
    • Wales have been winning at HT without conceding a point in each of their last two Six Nations matches.
    • Wales have conceded less than 20 points in each of their last eight Six Nations matches.

Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (capt), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong; James Ryan, Iain Henderson; Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander. Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, David Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Max Deegan, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Keith Earls.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Owen Williams, 23 Johnny McNicholl

Date: Saturday, February 8
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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