MX23RW : Sunday, October 21 22:04:54
Feb 7, 2016 at 3pm UK
Ireland
16-16
Wales
Murray (26')
FT
Faletau (38')

Result: Wales come from behind to draw with Ireland

Ireland begin the defence of their Six Nations title with a 16-16 draw with Wales having squandered a 13-point lead.

Wales came from 13 points behind to hold Ireland to a 16-16 draw in their opening match of the Six Nations at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon.

The defending champions raced into a first-half lead in front of their own fans, but succumbed to the Welsh comeback and in the end needed a late Johnny Sexton penalty to save a draw.

Rhys Priestland kicks during the Six Nations game between Ireland and Wales on February 7, 2016© Getty Images

The hosts immediately got on the front foot with sustained pressure inside the Wales 22, which eventually told when the visitors strayed offside, allowing Sexton the chance to stroke an early penalty through the posts for the lead.

Wales responded with pressure of their own, but as they approached the tryline Ireland managed to wrestle the ball back and quickly turned defence into attack.

The visitors once again failed to keep their discipline and gave away another penalty in kicking range, which Sexton gleefully accepted to put his side into a six-point lead.

Jonny Sexton kicks during the Six Nations game between Ireland and Wales on February 7, 2016© Getty Images

Warren Gatland's team were not as clinical from the tee in the early stages, however, as Dan Biggar dragged a penalty wide, and his day went from bad to worse when he was forced off after just 20 minutes through injury.

Ireland were the first to cross the whitewash when Jamie Heaslip burrowed towards the line, but the television match official ruled out the score after replays failed to prove that the number eight had grounded the ball.

They would not have to wait too much longer for a try, however, as Conor Murray darted over the line after Wales had held firm against charges from Robbie Henshaw, Heaslip and Jack McGrath.

Conor Murray scores the opening try during the Six Nations game between Ireland and Wales on February 7, 2016© Getty Images

Sexton's conversion extended the lead to 13 points, but Ireland would not register again until the 75th minute as Wales began their comeback in the final 10 minutes of the first half.

Keith Earls was perhaps fortunate not to see yellow for a suspected tip tackle on Liam Williams, but he was punished on the scoreboard when Rhys Priestland finally recorded Wales's first points of the contest with the resulting penalty.

There was almost a Welsh try moments later when Simon Zebo did just enough to prevent Williams collecting a Priestland kick over the line, but it was only a temporary reprieve for the hosts and their tryline was breached shortly afterwards when Taulupe Faletau powered over from close range.

Taulupe TOBY Faletau scores during the Six Nations game between Ireland and Wales on February 7, 2016© Getty Images

Priestland's conversion made it a three-point game at half time, but his kicking from open play was not quite as accurate and he missed an attempted drop-goal three minutes into the second half.

He was faultless from the tee, however, and levelled things up shortly afterwards with another penalty after Tommy O'Donnell had been penalised for not rolling away.

Ireland had a chance to halt the comeback and regain control of the contest in the 64th minute when Sexton made a break through the middle and found Andrew Trimble on the wing, but Tom James was there to make a try-saving tackle and take his man into touch.

Wales then began to pile the pressure on the Ireland defence, whose discipline wavered eight minutes from time to allow Priestland to knock over another penalty and give Wales the lead for the first time in the match.

It lasted only two minutes, however, before Sexton fired a long-range penalty just over to level things up once again, leaving things on a knife edge in the closing stages of the match.

Priestland missed one attempted drop-goal to win it late on and, despite neither side settling for a draw after the clock had gone red, the ball eventually went out of play to ensure that the spoils were shared between the two sides for the first time since 1974.

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Joe Schmidt, the Ireland head coach looks on during the International match between Ireland and New Zealand All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium on November 24, 2013
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