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Live Commentary: Wales 22-30 Ireland - as it happened

Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report of Ireland's win over champions Wales in the Six Nations.
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Defending champions Wales started their Six Nations campaign on Saturday with the visit of Ireland to the Millennium Stadium.

It was a game of two halves in Cardiff as the visitors led 23-3 at the break, but a fightback from the home side after the break made it a real spectacle.

However, the Irish held on to record their first win over the Welsh in four attempts.

Read Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report below to find out how the action unfolded.


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Hello there and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of today's Six Nations opener between champions Wales and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

Are you excited? The Six Nations is always a real treat for rugby fans with plenty of potentially explosive matches coming up in the next few weeks. There are some cracking fixtures on this opening weekend as well as champions Wales host Ireland before England host Scotland later this afternoon. We will also have a live text commentary of that one.

Meanwhile, France, who many have tipped to win the title this year, travel to Italy tomorrow.

Here are the teams for you...

WALES: Halfpenny, Cuthbert, Davies, Roberts, North, Biggar, Phillips; Jenkins, Rees, Jones, Coombs, Evans, Shingler, Warburton, Faletau

Replacements: Owens, James, Mitchell, Kohn, Tipuric, L Williams, Hook, S Williams


IRELAND: Kearney; Gilroy, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Zebo; Sexton, Murray, HeasliP, O'Brien, O'Mahony, Ryan, McCarthy, Ross, Best, Healy

Replacements: Cronin, Kilcoyne, Fitzpatrick, O'Callaghan, Henry, Reddan, O'Gara, Earls


A notable feature of this first match is the dismal form that both sides have shown coming into the tournament. Ireland ended a run of five straight defeats (their worst record since 1998) with a win over Argentina at the end of last year. It's an even worse state of affairs for Wales who have been beaten in their previous seven consecutive games.

However, Wales have had the upper hand over the Irish in recent years, winning the last three Tests.

That said, Ireland have enjoyed some good results in Cardiff over the past 20 years - they have won 10 and drawn one out of 14 matches.

Wales caretaker coach Rob Howley on BBC Sport: "It's a great opportunity for our guys. Momentum is hugely important in the first game. You need to get off to a winning start."

Just over five minutes to go until kickoff and the Millennium Stadium is packed to the rafters. There's a brass band on the pitching ready to blast out that Welsh national anthem.

The stadium erupts with noise as the players make their way out of the tunnel. The atmosphere is electric.

Here come the national anthems. Ireland first...

There are plenty of Irish fans in the crowd and they gave a good rendition of 'Ireland's Call', but that was dwarfed by the rousing version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau sung by the home players and fans.

It's a bright, sunny day in Cardiff, the roof is open at the Millennium Stadium and it will be Wales to get us underway...

Wales have had the best of the opening couple of minutes, but the Irish defence is standing firm.

Sexton kicks blind and the ball goes out deep in Welsh territory. Wales assert their authority at the lineout though and Biggar hacks the ball out of play.

Sexton kicks a big up and under, but Halfpenny shows great concentration to gather the ball with a number of Irish shirts around him. Wales eventually get a penalty and kick deep.

Plenty of groans from inside the Millennium Stadium as the Welsh lineout goes wrong. That was an ugly fumble from Warburton.

Chance for Ireland as the move the ball out quickly to Gilroy, but Halfpenny is there to make the tackle. However, Wales knock on and Ireland have the scrum.

TRY! WALES 0-5 IRELAND (ZEBO)

CONVERSION! WALES 0-7 IRELAND (SEXTON)

Wonderful hands from Brian O'Driscoll to set up Simon Zebo for Ireland's opening try. The former captain had the ball pinged out to him but he was able to gather it before selling a dummy, allowing Zebo to touch down under the posts. That was a real flash of magic from the veteran.

World Cup winner Ben Cohen on Twitter: "BOD. Different class!!!"

Ireland are continuing to do all of the pressing here. If anything, Wales are looking nervous and are lacking some shape.

Just as I write that, Wales turn over possession and threaten to break out wide, but Jonathan Davies's pass has too much on it and goes out to touch.

So close for Ireland now! They try to drive over, but the Welsh defence does its best to keep them out. However, Ireland have the put in at the scrum mere metres from the try line.

The ball comes out to Sexton, who attempts the drop goal. The ball drifts wide of the posts, but Ireland have a penalty.

PENALTY! WALES 0-10 IRELAND (SEXTON) The visitors stretch their lead with a simple kick from Sexton.

TRY! WALES 0-15 IRELAND (HEALY)

CONVERSION! WALES 0-17 IRELAND (SEXTON)

That is absolutely sensational from Simon Zebo to help Ireland move 17 points ahead of Wales. The winger receives a dodgy pass out wide, but he somehow keeps the ball alive with the cheekiest flick of his boot before catching it. Honestly, those were skills Lionel Messi would be proud of. Ireland keep the pressure on and it's Cian Healy who eventually goes over the line.

PENALTY! WALES 0-20 IRELAND (SEXTON)

While I was salivating over Zebo's fancy footwork, Ireland were awarded another penalty which Sexton kicked between the posts. That;s three from three for him now.

That sums up Wales's afternoon. Jonathan Davies gets some space in the Irish half and he has men outside of him, but his pass goes astray and out of play. The hosts have made six handling errors now compared to Ireland's two.

PENALTY! WALES 3-20 IRELAND (HALFPENNY)

A huge cheers goes out around the Millennium Stadium as Leigh Halfpenny kicks between the posts to bring up Wales's first points of the afternoon.

Former England international Brian Moore on Twitter: "No international side should lose a 17 point lead."

Is this the start of a Welsh comeback? They attack Ireland, but the move breaks down metres from the try line. There's definitely a bit more bite from them now.

PENALTY! WALES 3-23 IRELAND (SEXTON)

HALF TIME: WALES 3-23 IRELAND

Jonathan Sexton ends a successful half for the visitors with another penalty as they restore their 20-point advantage.

Ireland were utterly dominant in that opening 40 minutes and they could have had a few more points on the board to boot. Meanwhile, Wales look a shadow of the side that won the Six Nations last year.

Where do Wales go from here? Well, an early score at the start of the second half could do them wonders, but they look toothless in attack. If Ireland bag themselves another try then you have to say that it would look like game over.

Unfortunately for Wales they look like a side that have lost their last seven games on the bounce. The Millennium Stadium is stunned.

The players are out and it will be Ireland to start the second half...

TRY! WALES 3-28 IRELAND (O'DRISCOLL)

CONVERSION! WALES 3-30 IRELAND (SEXTON)

Worst case scenario for Wales. Ireland get the first try of this second half and it's Brian O'Driscoll who pops up from close range to score his 46th international try.

REPLACEMENT: Wales make the change as Justin Tipuric comes on for Aaron Shingler.

Take nothing away from Ireland there, they've started the second half with a bang. They went on the attack instantly and they reaped the rewards thanks to O'Driscoll.

TRY! WALES 8-30 IRELAND (CUTHBERT)

CONVERSION! WALES 10-30 IRELAND (HALFPENNY)

Wales haven't given up here! Cuthbert breaks through the Irish defence following some patient build up to get the home side's first try of the afternoon. Halfpenny adds the extras and we're back to a 20-point gap between the teams. The home crowd are up for this now.

REPLACEMENT: A change for Ireland as Peter O'Mahony comes off for Chris Henry.

Mike Phillips slams the ball down in disgust for Wales as he is called back after playing the advantage early. The home side are piling the pressure on now though.

How have Wales not scored there? They switch the ball from left to right, but O'Driscoll is there to snuff out the danger. They hosts were inches away from going over.

SIN BIN! Rory Best is off for Ireland for coming in from the side. Can the visitors resist this spell of danger?

TRY! WALES 15-30 IRELAND (HALFPENNY)

MISSED CONVERSION! (HALFPENNY)

The answer to my previous question is no, Ireland can't withstand the Welsh attack. The visiting defence finally gets stretched out on the right side and Roberts lays it off to Halfpenny, who goes over after some deliberation from the officials.

Former Welsh international Gareth Thomas on Twitter: "Are we the comeback kings!!!! Again!!???"

REPLACEMENT: Wales make another change as Lloyd Williams replaces Mike Phillips.

This game has really opened up now. Both teams are breaking quickly, but there have been some mammoth tackles in defence from both the hosts and the visitors. We've got 15 minutes left to play in this one.

Biggar kicks into the corner and Wales have a lineout metres from the try line, but again it goes awry and Ireland clear. That was a real opportunity for the champions.

Ireland are given a boost as Rory Best returns to the fold after a spell in the sin bin.

Some confusion here as Toby Faletau looked to have touched down at the base of the post, but a dozen replays show that he didn't ground the ball. Meanwhile, Conor Murray has been sin binned for the Irish. It's all happening now! Wales are still pushing...

Oh my word! How have Ireland survived there? Faletau looked like he was going to touch down out on the left side, but some miscommunication sees the ball knocked on by Wales. It's breathless stuff at the minute. It's also incredible defending from Ireland.

REPLACEMENT: James Hook is on now in place of Dan Biggar.

TRY! WALES 20-30 IRELAND (MITCHELL)

CONVERSION! WALES 22-30 IRELAND (HALFPENNY)

This one isn't over yet! After some mulling from the officials, Wales are awarded the try. Craig Mitchell battled his way over the line and just about got the ball down. Halfpenny adds the extras and there's now eight points in in with three minutes left to play.

It's been a stellar second-half display from Wales, but it looks like it's not enough. The clock is ticking down...

Former England international Iain Balshaw on Twitter: "Cracking start to the 6 Nations!! Lets hope there are as many points scored in the England game, by England!!"

FULL TIME: WALES 22-30 IRELAND

The full-time whistle goes and it's Ireland who have got their Six Nations campaign off to a winning start with a 30-22 win over Wales in Cardiff.

It was a cracking match between the two sides: Ireland were utterly dominant in the first half, but Wales really put up a fight in the second and should be applauded for their efforts.

Anyway, that's all from me for now but stay on Sports Mole for live text coverage of England's opener with Scotland from Twickenham.

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Did you know...?
 Ireland's Jonathan Sexton skips past Argentina's Eusebio Guinazu and Martin Landajo to score a try on November 24, 2012
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Result: Ireland thrash Argentina
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