Six Nations: Chris Henry and Paddy Jackson cross as Ireland defeat Wales
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 08/02/14 5:51pm
Ireland made it two wins from two at the start of the Six Nations with a resounding 26-3 triumph over reigning champions Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
Flanker Chris Henry and replacement fly-half Paddy Jackson both scored tries, while Jonathan Sexton kicked 14 points, as Wales were out-muscled up front.
Much of the attention in the build-up had been focused on Brian O'Driscoll as he prepared to face the team coached by Warren Gatland, the man who had sensationally dropped him for the final Test of last summer's British and Irish Lions tour of Australia.
However, it was the Irish pack - boosted by the return of another former Lions captain in lock Paul O'Connell - who stole the show, completely dominating their Welsh counterparts.
Not even the presence of their own Lions leader in Sam Warburton, who like O'Driscoll had sat out that 41-15 triumph in Sydney, albeit due to injury, could help the visitors turn the tide. Penalty after penalty left Wales permanently on the back foot, though they conceded the first try off the back of a rare moment of success in attack.
A turnover in Ireland territory allowed Sexton to put in a perfectly-weighted kick to the other end of the field, forcing his opposite number, Rhys Priestland, to carry the ball out of play under pressure.
The resulting line-out saw Henry finish a simple catch-and-drive move for his first international try, with Sexton converting from out wide.
The Ireland No 10 had already by that stage knocked over two penalties and although he missed an attempt from inside his own half on the last play of the first half, his kicking game, both out of hand and off the tee, had helped the home team open up a commanding 13-0 lead.
Wales' cause had not been helped by the loss of Scott Williams, injured in a collision with O'Driscoll that left his fellow centre winded, though that could hardly be offered as an excuse for their below-par display up front.
They may have hoped the break would allow them a chance to right the ship, yet within four minutes of the re-start they had surrendered three more points to Sexton's right boot, this time following an infringement at a ruck.
Leigh Halfpenny finally got to have a go at the posts himself after 56 minutes on the day he reached a half-century of appearances for his country, duly slotting over a straightforward attempt that briefly hinted at a comeback.
It was only a brief hint, though. Sexton was soon offered the opportunity to re-establish the 16-point cushion, and Ireland's determination in defence was summed up superbly when flanker Peter O'Mahony celebrated a turnover close to his own line as if he'd just dived over at the other end of the field.
When replacement prop Rhodri Jones saw a potential try ruled out by referee Wayne Barnes for a double, perhaps even triple, movement after being tackled, Wales must have known it was not going to be their afternoon.
Fittingly, the home forwards had the last word, another powerful rolling maul setting up a walk-in for Jackson. Sexton's understudy duly knocked over the easy kick to follow, too.
The result means Joe Schmidt's side have started a Six Nations tournament with back-to-back wins for the first time since 2009, a year when they went on to complete the grand slam.
Six Nations 2014: Ireland v Wales
Wales captain Sam Warburton admitted his team's discipline let them down as they were crushed 26-3 by Ireland in Dublin.
Man-of-the-match Peter O'Mahony says Ireland's Six Nations demolition of Wales was down to pure aggression.
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- Fire and Brimstone
- Gatland will 'bring tricks'
- Ireland v Wales: Teams
- Close quarters battle
- Schmidt backs Irish flankers
- Jones: Wales ready for Irish
- Maul to victory!
- O'Connell returns for Ireland
- Priestland: Bring on Ireland
- Opportunity knocks for Henry
- Wales release trio to clubs
- Ireland hopeful on O'Connell
- Warburton returns for Wales
- Phillips: O'Driscoll an icon
- Edwards wary of Irish attack
- Tuohy: Wales clash crucial
- Shingler leaves Wales squad