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Wales defy the odds and edge a classic

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Bryn Palmer | 21:39 UK time, Sunday, 5 February 2012

Aviva Stadium, Dublin

As the strains of Hymns and Arias drowned out the booing from Irish supporters at the final whistle, the sound of Welsh rejoicing would have reverberated around the Six Nations.

Any year Wales win their first game of the Championship, two words are instantly unavoidable, so we may as well not tread too lightly around the subject.

Another 'Grand Slam' bandwagon has been launched in the Valleys after this stunning last-gasp triumph in Dublin, but the pain writ large all over the battered face of Paul O'Connell should act as at least a momentary handbrake on expectations.

With a minute to go in this thrilling encounter, the Ireland captain could have been the one fielding questions later about his own side's prospects of repeating their 2009 clean sweep, instead of dissecting the finer points of a shattering loss with the assembled media. Rugby can be a cruel game.

But before we consider what this Welsh victory might lead to, it is worth recalling the inauspicious circumstances Warren Gatland's men found themselves in both before and during the match.

Leigh Halfpenny

On a mixed day for the kickers, Halfpenny struck the vital blow with under a minute to go

Devoid of half of the pack that outplayed Ireland so comprehensively in their World Cup quarter-final in New Zealand, victory appeared a tall order against an established and experienced Irish eight at the outset.

Factor in Ireland's propensity for starting the Championship well - they had won their opening game for the last seven years - and the fact Wales had lost on four of their last five visits to Dublin, and the omens were not promising.

Then throw in concerns about the fitness of Rhys Priestland and Jamie Roberts, who were declared ready for action despite weeks of inactivity, and the odds seemed stacked against them.

Yet for an hour they more than matched the hosts and should probably have had a comfortable lead, given their greater ambition, fluidity and firepower, rather than find themselves a point behind when Jonny Sexton's third penalty made it 16-15 on the hour.

With 15 minutes left, it would have taken a brave Welshman to back their side to win when Bradley Davies was sin-binned for an ugly tip tackle on Donnacha Ryan. Even more so when Tommy Bowe's try after 68 minutes made it 21-15, with Wales still a man down for another eight minutes.

That they then gave themselves a chance to win the game with George North's try, even before Davies returned to the fray, already said much about their character, composure and self-belief.

Back to a full complement with three minutes remaining, the Welsh then showed admirable patience to work their way from their own 22, first up to halfway, then to Ireland's 22, before Stephen Ferris's high tackle on Ian Evans presented Leigh Halfpenny with the opportunity to win the game.

If one sympathised with Ferris as he trudged miserably off after his yellow card, when a penalty looked sufficient, and Ireland in general for the gut-wrenching way in which they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, there was still a sense that the more deserving team won, even if the manner in which they ultimately triumphed - as Gatland admitted later - was fortunate.

Bradley Davies, who until that moment had enjoyed a storming game, carrying prodigiously and providing a safe haven at the front of the line-out when danger lurked elsewhere, might not have returned to the field at all, if referee Wayne Barnes had applied the same letter of the law as Alain Rolland.

His senseless tackle after the ball had gone looked worse than the one which saw Sam Warburton dismissed in the World Cup semi-final against France, and means he is unlikely to be unavailable for at least Wales' next two games, at home to Scotland and away to England.

With their World Cup locks Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones already hors de combat, that is an unnecessary blow Wales could have done without.

But Gatland didn't seem too perturbed, citing possible alternatives in the uncapped Lou Reed, and Ryan Jones - who could move into the second row from blind-side, with Dan Lydiate expected to be fit next week. He also hinted Alun Wyn Jones may be ready to return before the end of the campaign.

The loss of Warburton, who suffered a dead leg that will require extensive treatment in the next couple of days, would also be a setback, although Justin Tipuric equipped himself well on his first taste of Six Nations action after replacing the skipper for the second half.

Wales seem happy to roll with the blows, cushioned by a growing self-belief and confidence that if their forwards can deliver enough ball at sufficient speed, their marauding giants in the backs will make good use of it.

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This game marked another step in George North's seemingly unstoppable rise towards rugby super-stardom.

"I thought he was absolutely world class, particularly in that second half," purred Gatland, citing the 6ft 4in, 16st 5lb, 19-year-old's part in the second try for Jonathan Davies, a stunning burst of pace and power off his wing before a delicious offload out of the back of his hand.

North then showed his own finishing power by smashing through Tommy Bowe and Gordon D'Arcy for his 10th try in 17th Tests.

Many more will doubtless follow. With the 6ft 6in Alex Cuthbert now another wing option, and hulking centre Jamie Roberts and scrum-half Mike Phillips already established in the physical intimidation stakes, Wales are armed with formidable attacking weaponry.

"On average we were 9kg a man heavier than Ireland in the backline, and in modern rugby, if you have got an advantage like that, you have got to use it," noted Gatland.

Roberts had opined beforehand that Wales would require a "perfect performance" to better the "near-perfect" one that did for Ireland in the World Cup.

In the event, that proved incorrect. Gatland and his fellow coaches looked far from ecstatic afterwards, and the head honcho's assessment - "I think we were only at 70% of what we are capable of" - spelled out a clear warning to the rest of their Six Nations opponents.

With three home games to come, the first next Sunday against a Scotland side in full soul-searching mode after extending their try-less trauma against England, it would be surprise if Wales were not in the title shake-up when France visit Cardiff on 17 March.

Gatland's biggest problem will be managing expectations, even with a trip to Twickenham to negotiate.

Ireland - with two further home games to come themselves - may yet recover to have a say in the final outcome. But they will need to shake off this setback quickly.

Six days is not long to nurse aching limbs and lift spirits before an acid test next Saturday evening in Paris, where they have not won since Brian O'Driscoll tripped the light fantastic in the first year of the expanded Six Nations 12 years ago.

Without their talisman against Wales, Ireland looked denuded of class in midfield and the defensive leadership the great man gives them.

Kidney showed no inclination to blame refereeing decisions for defeat, and rightly so.

"We will take a good look at what we can solves ourselves first," he said, even if it was clear Ireland felt a sense of grievance for a second year running after defeat by Wales.

Elation on one hand, despair on the other. Such is the way of the Six Nations. This year's championship is already alive with possibilities.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Fair play to Wales, were probably the better team over the 80 minutes, even though they may have won in fortunate circumstances (in successive campaigns).

    However I hope, and fully expect, Bradley Davies to get a lengthy ban for a disgraceful dump tackle off the ball which potentially could have ended Donncha Ryan's career.

  • Comment number 2.

    Fantastic game, deserved top-billing in the first week of the 2012 Six Nations.

    As Warren Gatland said, when Wales play with confidence and get some momentum they can be dangerous. The thing(s) that now sets them apart from all the years and all the teams I've watched as a welsh supporter, is that they seem to have no fear, and play right up to the 80th minute with ball in hand. Past sides would have exhausted themselves around the 60 minute mark, or, if behind, would have let heads drop. But because there are so many youngsters now being blooded by Gatland, they play for each other. Even with the injuries, the self-belief is so strong in this squad that the guys know that whoever comes in will do a great job. Plus, gotta agree with Bryn on George North - a 19 year old on his way to achieving superstar status. His offload to Jonathan Davies after battering his way through the Irish defence was a thing of absolute beauty on a rugby field.

    Final note - Bradley Davies deserved a red card. How much difference that would have made to the final 10 mins or so, we'll never know.

  • Comment number 3.

    Much as I am loath to blame Wayne Barnes and Dave Pearson but if they are allowed officiate again in this tournament it is a disgrace.

    How Dave Pearson can say that picking someone up off the ball above the horizontal and dropping them on their head is only a yellow card defies belief.

    How can Wayne Barnes come up with a new law in the game which states that you can't touch a scrumhalf when you are coming through the middle of the ruck defies belief. Also how can he justify allowing a player lying on his back to pick the ball up and say it's a legitimate steal and as for his thought process that when a player is tackled and the 2nd player in is trying to win the ball the attacking player has 4/5 seconds to hold on before he shouts hands off is just wrong.

    As for Ireland D Ryan did more in his first 4 mins on the park than DOC did so has to start from now on. We also need to accept that you need size and power in the backline these days unless you are an exceptional talent.

  • Comment number 4.

    Just returned from a physically and mentally exhausting journey to dublin. What a day, what a weekend what a game. The Irish were amazing hosts, a great laugh and the stadium is superb. The game was an excellent advert for rugby. I thought as a team Wales were excellent, although as individuals there were some silly mistakes. Bradley Davies should have been sent off without any doubt (its absolutely impossible not to wonder whether we could have been talking about the world cup finalist's opening 6 nations game if the same leniancy had been applied to sam warbuton in new zealand...) but it was such an ebb and flow, topsy turvy game who knows what could have happened.

    All in all a glorious day, and I would go back to Dublin for a fixture tomorrow. Only regret was it wasnt on a Saturday and I have work tomorrow!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    In certain respects Wales were both justified winners and very lucky today. They were the better of the two teams but Bradley Davies should have got a red. No doubt what so ever if picking up a player who doesn't have the ball and dumping him to the ground with no respect for his safety isn't a red then what is? I'm fairly sure his Six Nations is over now but that is little conciliation to Ireland. Similarly the penalty that led to Wales winning kick was not only not a yellow but it wasn't even a penalty.

    So Wales were the better side but they certainly got the rub of the green with the refs decisions.

  • Comment number 6.

    (Wales supporter). Yes Davies should have had a red card, and Ferris should not have had a yellow. The penalty was marginal. But, maybe I'm biased, but I think Wales would have won anyway. The North try came with Davies still off the field, after all, and the way they were playing at that point, you'd expect that they would have gotten a chance to get the score they needed. Similarly, I'm pretty certain Wales still had the ball even after the Ferris tackle, and I was certainly expecting - and I tend to be quite pessimistic - Wales to get a chance to get the score they needed.

  • Comment number 7.

    As an Ireland fan unfortunately Ireland didn't play to their potential. Wales deserved to win no doubt. The commentary seemed to rave about the quality of the match but for me it was poor in many aspects. Aimless kicking by Ireland handed back possession to Wales multiple times. It's seemed it was a game plan from the outset. Box kicks and aimless kicking ad nauseum. Ireland had a distinct advantage at the lineout so why not take advantage!!! Can't someone on the field take control and demand that we go for touch? Our advantage was there to be exploited. Wales played to their strengths, Ireland failed to adapt. If we kick that much ball to the french we will be murdered, no doubt!

  • Comment number 8.

    Bradley Davies should have had a red, but what about the cheap shot from Donncha Ryan? Ref could/should have penalised him? Still what a fantastic game!

  • Comment number 9.

    jb1974 - While not for one second condoning what Bradley Davies did Donncha Ryan`s foul on a defenceless Rhys Gill instigated that particular incident. A tip tackle is a tip tackle so Stephen Ferris must now be cited. R Kearney blatantly took out Leigh Halfpenny in front of David Pearson and should have got a yellow card at that point who knows what would have happened. Wayne Barnes called out to both sides do not touch the scrum half because you are not allowed and never have been allowed to pull a player in the scrum half position into it. The laying on the back was close he had the ball when on his feet but yes was on his back when he let it go very close could have gone either way. So applying the law strictly three Irish players must be cited also. As for Wayne Barnes I thought he was consistent and had a good game I would agree with your comments on David Pearson. At the end of the day the old men failed you and the better team won.

  • Comment number 10.

    I really enjoyed Eddie Butlers commentary of the France Italy game, particularly his French accent when pronouncing the French players names, even those who were not of French descent. However, I was terribly disappointed that he did not adopt an Irish accent for the Ireland team. Come on Mr Butler you can do better! Looking forward to Scotland Italy; that will be an acid test for you:)

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Yes I agree it was a red! YES it was a yellow and a penalty and although bias I truly belive Wales were the rightfull winners!.
    Lets just get one thing straight Ian Evans legs were above his head and although the tackle didn't look that bad, by the letter of the law it was a yellow! and a fair and square 3 points.
    Must of been gutting for the Irish I thought they played awsome "appart from kicking too much quality ball away" but how many times have we seen ronan do a last minute kick to win the game? quite a fitting end I thought.
    Lets not forget Wales were injury ridden and agains an awsome experienced Irish pack Wales were AMAZING and the backs are enough to make any side shiver so only massive positives to take from that game.
    Did anyone else notice that after the Scotland v England game turning over to Wales v Irland was like watching Nz v Sa??? Totally different levle of rugby...

  • Comment number 13.

    I would tend to agree with comment # 6.

    However fortunate/unjustified/etc the final penalty might have been, there was still in my mind this sense that Wales would inevitably have scored, one way or another.

    Great game, anyway.

  • Comment number 14.

    PS Did anyone not feel that it was a mistake to bring on ROG?

    Sexton's restarts were top drawer, if memory serves Ireland regained possession at least a couple of times. Surely ROG could have made his restart one of those very high, hanging balls, to at least give Ireland a chance to regain possession and then go for the drop goal?

  • Comment number 15.

    Well done Wales who stepped up to the plate and were very agressive in every thing they did. It was a toss of the coin at the end but they did deserve to win for their back play inventiveness alone.

    On the point of officiating the lifting of a players leg in the tackle was going on the whole game and Barnes chose to ignore it, why he decided to eventually penalise Ferris alone is for him to explain. It is an area where players and supporters simply want consistency.

    The Davies 'tackle' was on a whole different sphere. The fact that Pearson saw it and made the recommendation he did indicates that he is unfit to have any role in the rest of the tournament and a refresher at referee school wouldn't go amiss.

  • Comment number 16.

    Good blog again Bryn, thank-you.

    Love the comments at post #3 - myopia is still going strong amongst rugby supporters, it seems.

    I had only dared to dream that Wales would beat Ireland after our injuries and their European Cup form, but what a superb game of rugby. How often does the lead change 5 times these days? Plenty of action, tries being scored, physicality, stupidity, controversy, honest endeavour by the bucketload, emerging stars, etc etc - pure bliss.

    I for one think that the poor kicking actually made for a better game. Too often these days, kicking is the principle way to score which makes for percentage rugby instead of exciting rugby. Of course I prefer my team to win whatever, and if that means by kicking then so be it, but stepping back a little it improved the game and spurred on the quest for tries.

    Similarly, the poor kicking out of hand might also have made for a better game so we avoided that interminably dull aerial ping pong that blights so many games.

    Out of interest, does anyone think that Lee Byrne's international career is now confined to glorious history? And has James Hook also had his day? Beware others who seek to ply their trade in the land of the plentiful euro .... ?

  • Comment number 17.

    I am still puzzled that Ireland chose to have a kick at goal from their own half with 5 minutes to go.
    It was a 50-50 kick at best. If they had kicked to touch, the odds are that they would have taken the lineout (with Wales missing a 2nd row), and had the choice of either going for a try, or just killing the clock. Instead, by kicking at goal they gave Wales the ball back.

  • Comment number 18.

    What a sensational game of rugby! Welsh or Irish you can not take away that fact that this six nation game had everything you would want to see in a rugby game and is a great spectical for anyone who is impartcial to watch. Wales did look the better side on times and it looked like they could have gone up another gear, however for the second period the irish played their part in a fab game and started to take charge, but you could always see that wales had the edge. Wales for the slam!!! why not!!!!

  • Comment number 19.

    At the end of the day the six nations is a spectacle for rugby fans world wide, well done to both teams for providing one of the most exciting games of rugby in a long time.

    I watched the Scotland v England match the day before and I did actually fall asleep in the second half. So boring and telegraphed, in a different galaxy to the scenes at Dublin yesterday.

    I agree totally with the posts above, Bradley lost his head for a crucial second and it could have cost Wales dearly! Consistency is a terrible problem with refereing its not even funny, at least the scrums were a bit better!

    The Welsh backline were immense, George North in particular, but special praise goes to Roberts for his hard straight running which set up so much quality ball and to his centre partner Davies who was quite frankly out of this world. Ryan Jones can be very proud of his performance, he has played well for the Ospreys all season. Also Justin Tipuric, what boots he had to fill coming on for his captain, a couple of crucial turnovers and one of our best line out men!!!!

    I feel very sorry for Ireland, following the loss to France in the WC the pain has still not gone completely, rest assured if both teams continue this form they will finish the tournament well.

  • Comment number 20.

    Congrats Wales and Ireland for such a fantastic game. Both teams played great rugby- hard in contact and at the breakdown but with instinct and pace with ball in hand. I only wish England and Scotland could watch this and play something recognisable as good rugby.

    Poor ref decisions, but in games like this, you get what you deserve.

  • Comment number 21.

    I agree with #10. Why does Eddie Butler insist on putting on an accent only for the French team. As supporters we are entitled to consistency in these matters and it is actually very irritating.
    As for the excellent game we should distinguish between the red card / yellow card decisions and the actual result. These events happened so late in the game that the Davies card had at the most a 3 minute affect and the last try was scored whilst he was off the field anyway. Yes a red card for Davies and a citing for the good of the game and yes a penalty for the winning score - the yellow card was academic as there was only 15 seconds of playing time left.

  • Comment number 22.

    As always a real mix of informed and interesting comments with a healthy dose of Nationalism and blinkered ignorance thrown in for good measure to keep everyone amused :-)

    Wales deserved to win, but the way they were awarded the win leaves a little bit of a sour taste to this English referee.

    Davis should have been red-carded, absolutely, no doubts what so ever. A complete failure of taking responsibility for a big decision at a pivotal moment in the game by dave Pearson.

    Wayne Barnes, difficult assessment. His communication was excellent throughout, reffed with a smile and managed the players well. Ferris was a yellow, borderline, but in the name of consistency he had to give it. I wouldn't have done,for what little that is worth.

    If a player is not part of the ruck or maul or doesn't have the ball you don't tackle him, it's not difficult. Penalty.

    His penalty count was phenomonally low, not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing with 2 back rows that are so destructive and adept at killing quick ball. On more than one occassion Ferris was killing the ball directly in front of Mr Barnes and being given several seconds to release the ball whilst on the ground.

    All in all, great game played between 2 cracking teams ruined ever so slightly by a gutless english linesman. Will be very interested to see how this Welsh team of giant fast backs do when there front 5 are being mullered, which with there injury list will happen sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm in full agreement with Mike B (post no. 16): this was one of the best Test matches I've seen in a good while and a fantastic advert for the Six Nations.

    As for Eddie Butler's pronunciation of the French players' names, well, he studied French at Cambridge so the man knows his oignons on that score.

  • Comment number 24.

    Couldn't have asked for much more from that game as a neutral, it had it all. Thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable. Immense self belief to come back in to it from both sides. Someone said the lead changed hands 6 times? Great stuff.

    Very gutsy from Wales even if they did enjoy a couple of key decisions that probably swung it their way in the end. It would have been impressive enough to go to Ireland and get a win any which way under the circumstances, but to the manner in which they went about it was a joy to watch. The first 20 in particular they didn't so much sit back to weather the storm, they got right in amongst to the point they were looking the home team. If Priestland hadn't been so sporting with the boot they could well have been out of sight before Ireland regrouped. Halfpenny has a pair on him.

    Ireland were good too, really good. A little reactive perhaps, but their setplays were solid, their lineout dominant, and were very unlucky with the key decisions. When they cut loose they looked great. I forget who it was who said, but the guts to go deep and wide for Bowe's try when so close to the line with the forwards was impressive also. I agree with an earlier poster or two though, just a couple of odd decisions in the last 5 or 10 mins maybe? Was ROG brought on because Sexton elected to kick for posts rather than territory where they'd been so dominant on Wales' ball...?

    Fantastic contest, both teams a credit, just a great game of rugby.

  • Comment number 25.

    A lot of sense being spoken on this board. I agree with post 17; when Ireland were awarded that penalty I feared 'game over' as I was sure they'd head for the corner and with Wales' pack a man down they could've at the very least held the ball for a few minutes or probably scored a try to kill the game. Instead they ate into the sin bin clock and gave Wales the ball back. Poor refereeing didn't help Ireland, but Kidney was correct in pointing out that Ireland need to look at themselves after this game. Wales got a bit of luck in that regard, but overall played superbly enough to come out worthy winers.

    I'm pleased to see that to a man everyone is condemning Davies for that off the ball tip. Barnes and Pearson need to think hard how they're going to justify giving exactly the same sanction to a slightly clumsy tackle as they do to a very dangerous off the ball incident. Maybe Barnes felt like he owed us for not giving Hook's penalty against S.A... :)

  • Comment number 26.

    Fantastic game of rugby and a great advert for the game, bar one horrible instrance. Wales fully deserved to win, and Ireland were out on their feet at the end, in fact some of their forwards were puffing heavily in the first half.

    I have a simple solution for the debate about the 'yellow card'. Whilst the player is off the field, the 4th official and citing commisioner can review the incident and both agree if the sanction is correct. If it is, fine. If they both think it should have been red (Bradley), then retrospectively give him red and don't allow him back after 10 mins. If they don't think its even yellow (perhaps Ferris, but by the letter of the law the ref was right) then get himn back on ASAP before the 10 mins are up. Clearly if opinion is divided between them then leave the sanction as is. Simples.

  • Comment number 27.

    Wales were the better team - but once again, caution must be used. Wales won by a point with a last minute kick. So often the media gets massively carried away with Wales - Bryn's column is no different. They looked good-ish. Not amazing.

    Luckily for them, Scotland arrive next week.

    Scotland led by someone who should be the subject of medical science or at least a Channel 5 documentary. What he sees and what his brain gets told are two entirely different things - they must be. Then what he describes to others is entirely different also. I wouldn't be surprised if there are Umpa Lumpas in Andy Robinsons head making lots of lovely things out of nasty ingredients. The man is deluded. I saw his BBC interview on Saturday where he told the reporter 'I don't understand losing'.

    REALLY - his teams are fairly good at it. I remember Robinson in charge of England constantly jabbering on about great improvement after every single loss.

    So next week be prepared for more nonsense about Scotland being on the right journey, improving, how Scotland is a sleeping giant blah blah blah....

    I think Wales should give Shingler a start, and play Henson at 10. They don't have to do too much to beat Scotland - but they are going to have to go some way to beat Andy Robinson's Umpa Lumpas.

  • Comment number 28.

    (Welsh supporter) With regards to the 2 yellow card incidents, if the letter of the law is interpreted correctly as per Alain Roland interpretation both Bradley Davies and Stephen Ferris should have been red carded. Right let's look at it with common sense and logic. The one tackle (Davies) was with intent, it was off the ball and the player was driven into the floor head first, luckily Ryan tucked his head in to prevent landing on it. To me using common sense, that was a definite red card no questions asked. The Stephen Ferris tackle was done on the ball carrier, one leg was raised above the height of the head, but there was no intent, and looking at the tackle Ian Evans was in much less danger than D Ryan. In both cases though, they come under the law of 'Tip tackle' I think the IRB, players, coaches and referees need to all sit down together and sort this issue out, the issue being that the referee has the power to decide what punishment is metted out in this kind of tackle, even if it means stopping play and refering it to a video ref who can see it from different positions. Any parent watching that tackle on D Ryan would have reservations letting their kid play rugby if it meant that the perpetrator only gets a yellow card.
    It's a shame that these 2 incidences are overshadowing what was a pulsating game of rugby and hopefully this will be the only game in the six nations that this type of incident will be talked about

  • Comment number 29.

    Wow - what a match! I'm licking my wounds this morning after an exciting but miserable end (for irish supporters anyway!). Wales were the better team hands down but Ireland blew their chances of snatching this one.

    I too can't believe we didn't kick for the corners and have a go at the Welsh line out more - especially towards the end when we should have been running down the clock. In times gone by we would have employed this tactic more often than not but now seem to think it's beneath us or something...

    The Irish failed to get the upper hand in the scrum - this really needs looked at as Wales got parity without their strongest players. However, where Wales really won the game was through the centres. It almost looked unfair at times - North and Roberts looked like huge school bullies running through a load of smaller kids on the playground! (any chance we can convert Ferris and Heaslip into backs!?:-)

    All in all the Welsh won well but I think both teams can play even better. I still think these 2 will battle it out for top spot - it all depends if one or both can overcome France.

    In terms of Bradley Davis, he should have gone off and with Wales leaking points when they were down a man, I think Ireland would have closed out the game and won in the end, Having said that, although I would have taken the victory if it came in that fashion, I think we as Irish fans should be more gracious in defeat - we don't want to have to play against fewer people on the pitch to win after all!

    One final note on Wayne Barnes - he had a reasonably good game but should have taken control over the red card. I also thought that he was a little timid at the breakdowns and didn't give enough turnovers (for holding on) when players on both sides clearly had hands on the ball for long enough to warrant penalties.

  • Comment number 30.

    Re : Officiating...... Wayne Barnes generally did'nt have a poor game. BUT he did miss quite a lot, namely not penalising the Irish scrum for popping out several times, missed Bowe's blatant bat down in first half when stopping a certain try. (Should have been yellow card for professional foul) and Kearney taking Priestland out when nowhere near the ball...again a yellow card in my eyes.

    No defence in respect of Bradley...clear red card and he will be given a lengthy ban IMO.... However, if we are looking for consistency, Ryan and Kearney should be cited for equally dangerous play too. Ferris is a borderline case. It was a penalty, probably a yellow but I would not be sure about further sanction.....

    By the way....Pearson was a disgrace.....and to whoever said on this site that he should not officiate again in this tournament....take a look at who is reffing France v Ireland next week.......?

    What is a shame is that we are talking in negative terms about a magnificent advert for the game, the tournament and a spectacle.... Wales were a superb team, thoroughly well coached, cool under pressure and clinical. North a revelation, Ryan Jones awesome, Evans close behind and Jon Davies, Tipuric left a marker for future, Gill a very good debut but Phillips shone like he has never shone before.....truly a WORLD class performance. I would like to know what his tackle count was.... When we really do click someone is going to take the mother and father of beatings........

  • Comment number 31.

    @27..... And if you think that's bad Tinoflyer, you have the arch deusional Scottie Johnson on his way up to you at the end of the season.... a man who has single handedly attempted to wreck the careers of Hook and Henson and is the king of mumbo jumbo and guff!! Enjoy..........!

  • Comment number 32.

    In terms of Bradley Davis, he should have gone off and with Wales leaking points when they were down a man, I think Ireland would have closed out the game and won in the end.- Hi Kinsey, the score during the sin bin period was 7-7. Bradley Davies came back on afterwards (for 3 mins) and I don't think he even had a carry on his return.
    Ireland lost because of a few poor choices, and hard lines too them, but what a game to watch!

  • Comment number 33.

    Oh, I forgot to say: a very well-written article, Bryn. Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 34.

    Fantastic game, great advert for the game and for the 6 nations. Ireland kicked posession away too easily and looked a bit slower than the Welsh.

    Red card? - yes and more to follow - off the ball, unrelated to the play with malicious intent imo Wales should just drop this fool, Warburton has said he agrees with his red card as its not a sport he'd want one of his children playing if that sort of career/life threatening tackle has a place. So...
    As to the Ireland yellow, just petty refereeing - he blew straight away so perhaps evening it up with the other tackle but this one had no malicious intent and the Ireland player did have control of the Welsh guy as he went to ground. Wales still had the ball iirc so no need to stop play.
    Thats Rolland and now yesterdays referee that have tainted the outcomes of games, it should be black and white what's allowed and referees aren't supposed to be in the spotlight and certainly shouldn't covet being so.

  • Comment number 35.

    Bryn

    So you've carried on the uncritical admiration-fest from the world cup.

    The game that I watched saw Wales win it in attacking play...a savage assault that makes you wonder whether the "old Wales" has really left us...and a colossal refereeing blunder that, for the second time in two games, gifted Wales a win.

    Wales have an excellent scrummage and some very strong backline runners. They are however becoming incredibly predictable. Mike Phillips is almost guarantee to try his hand the the "9th forward" by driving round the fringes. Jamie Roberts is playing the same predictable crash-ball game. But Jonothan Davis is excellent and George North looks very talented...only in the backhanded offload that was sublime. Otherwise I suspect that his boshing style will be worked out pretty quickly by international level defences. Sadly, I also predict that he will spend a lot of time with knee and ankle injuries...he's too big, getting bigger and player's ligaments aren't getting any stronger, even while they get heavier!

    Wales must be a strong challenger for the title this year.

  • Comment number 36.

    Good game, good game!
    Irish kicking game helped to make it that - may not have been the best for them but was good for the spectacle of Wales running the ball back.

    Clear red card - but not Barnes's fault, he didn't see it and took the recommendation of Pearson. If Pearson had said "red" it would have been red.

    Let's hope North isn't another Henson. 19 is a bit young to be told you're a superstar. He clearly has huge potential - just needs a lot of help and guidance to keep his feet on the ground.

  • Comment number 37.

    What a game. Restores your faith in rugby after Saturday's rubbish. As a neutral it was great but am I the only one really confused about the tackles that led to the cards?
    No doubt the letter of the law will provide the justification for the decisions but common sense says one was an off the ball assault and the other a straight forward tackle.
    That aside the threat from the Welsh centres and George North was great to watch.

  • Comment number 38.

    The Irish player Ryan illegally hit Adam Jones in the ruck immediately proceeding the Bradley Davies tip-tackle. When Bakkies Botha did the same against the British Lions in the second test, Adam Jones ended up with a broken shoulder and Botha banned for the third test.

    That doesn't excuse Davies disgraceful tackle, but the correct decision by the officials would have been a yellow card for Ryan and a red for Davies. This would have meant Wales would have only been down by one man for four minutes, rather than the ten they were, so actually if the officials had followed the letter of the law in a strange way it would have benefited Wales more than it did.

    As for the Ferris tackle by the letter of the law, that should have been red as well, but that shows how wrong the rules are that there can be no differentiation between Davies' intended tip tackle and Ferris' accidental. A change in the law is definitely needed.

  • Comment number 39.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have no sympathy for Donncha Ryan, he took a cheap shot at Adam Jones exactly the same as what that South African animal Bakkies Botha did to Adam. DR deserved to have being hit hard. Davies will serve his time but Donncha will learn that it doesn't pay to take cheap shots on an opponent who is in a vulnerable position.

  • Comment number 41.

    Great game and the best side won. Wales' back division were outstanding and will be a constant menace throughout the 6N.

    Bradley Davies should be given a lengthy ban. After all the furore of the WC you would think he would have the brain power to think before doing something so completely stupid and dangerous. Ferris incident was a penalty regardless of whether it was a yellow or red card. Ryan could've been carded for the cheap shot on Jones in a similar way to Botha on the Lions tour. One thing that seems to have escaped everyone though is the blatant dropping of the knees by Connor Murray the Irish scrum half on Johnathon Davies' legs when he scored his second try. If anyone has recorded the game and cares to play it back, you will see he deliberately drops BOTH knees straight on to Davies' legs. IMO a minimum sin binning offence which would have meant Wales playing against 14 men when their tails were really up. Would be interesting to hear Bryn's thoughts on this as well as other viewers.

  • Comment number 42.

    Forget about the shocking tackle and Wales supposedly lucky but does anybody else not remember the deliberate knock on from the first ten minutes by Ireland when Wales had a three man over lap and a guaranteed try. I certainly do, no penalty and not even a knock on given. All in all the officials were shocking in every aspect. Couldn't even decide on simple scores without going upstairs. In my opinion lets not increase the use of the TMO and get rid of it all together. Put some responsibility back on the refs for a change.

  • Comment number 43.

    Enough said on the refereeing decisions though I have to say both Kearney and Ryan were lucky to escape yellows, so the Irish should be more gracious about the loss and less inclined to shift blame from their team's performance.
    I would like to make a point about Ryan Jones who, as replacement captain, stayed on the field far too long presumably to provide "leadership". After 65 minutes he was struggling and ineffectual - other than a line out catch he contributed nothing but missed tackles. Maybe Gatland thought his leadership was needed, maybe he thought Powell would've been a yellow card risk (in which case why was he on the bench?) Another Gatland error in not trusting his bench I thought.

  • Comment number 44.

    Lots of comments about the tip tackles so won't add further. But... it wouldn't have mattered had Ireland been able to pin Wales in their own half. As it was, with 2 minutes to go, the game all but lost, the way Wales worked their way up the field to put them in a position should an opportunity come their way, was outstanding. It did. They won.

    To see Wales playing the full 80 minutes of physical, skillful, full-on rugby was an absolute pleasure. And I'm English. Go Wales.

  • Comment number 45.

    oh, and good spot in post #41 - nasty cheap shot but I was pleased to see JD and other Welsh players did not react to it.

  • Comment number 46.

    Scrumpox

    You must have watched a different game to me as I felt jones ha one of his best games in a welsh shirt. Off loading, ruck work, carries, fringe tackling. I'm no jones fan but he ha a great game

  • Comment number 47.

    In some defence of Wayne Barnes for the Bradley Davies incident he was going from the linesmans recomendation only. You can clearly hear on the commentary the first thing he says was 'I didn't see anything'. Which is understandable as his attention was focused where it should have been, where the ball was. He would have seen it if it hadn't been so far off the ball as to be almost unbelievable. He had to go with what Pearson said really. Similarly to Kaplan and the try that never was in the previous year (Wales getting the rub of the green from a linesman again!) The other mistakes he made are less justfiable. Though I don't think Ferris would have seen yellow if he hadn't already shown one to Davies. We ask for consistency and Barnes thought that's what he was doing, though the two incidents don't really compare and with TV replay you'd have to say Ireland were hard done by to give away a penalty for that let alone a yellow.

    Other than those I thought Barnes did OK. Not too much whistle, let the game flow well and got most decisions right. So really the only thing he got wrong (not Pearson) was the Ferris tackle at the end. Just a shame this cost Ireland the game. As I for one find it hard to know for sure that Wales would have scored anyway (as some other posters seem to think). A couple of minutes to go, kicking been a bit ropey hmmmm it's possible but I don't think anyone can be sure about it.

  • Comment number 48.

    Well said suzkid, #44. On the day of the Superbowl, Wales' controlled 13 phase drive up field from the restart was simply awesome, brave, skillful and superbly controlled rugby. It reminded me of Joe Montana's incredible Superbowl winning drive for the 49ers.

  • Comment number 49.

    Another good performance by Wales spoilt by a dangerous tip tackle. Its got to be stamped out for all teams. To do it off the ball is a disgrace. I hope all rugby managers and refs take this to task. Its bad enough doing it in the heat of the moment in a tackle. To do it off the ball must result in some sort of ban. It spoilt what was a good game for me. I dont like to see it, its not clever or funny and must not become part of any game at any level.

  • Comment number 50.

    Ok lets get the controversy out of the way:

    Bradley should have been red carded. Gatland has said so (and fact he has done so should be used as an example of how a coach should behave). Mind you Ryan could have been penalised for the cheap shot 10 sec before.

    Ferris was not a yellow, in fact not even a penalty (Guscott also said so), the whole point of the law was to ensure that when a player is taken off his feet (both not just one as per Ferris tackle) he is brought to ground safely and controlled ie not on head/shoulders. Ferris did that.

    I said before game (on BBC website) that Ireland should beat Wales but would find a way to lose and so it proved.

    It was an odd game because Wales have completely redefined how a team can look. Wales had a set of backs who are the size of most flankers (and taller than some locks!) but a completely underpowered set of forwards. It rather nullified the normal Irish game because when they got their powerful ball carriers running at backs they found that the backs were just as big and powerful as them.

    Some big positives for Wales: Prestland, North built on an impressive RWC and Toby F worked tirelessly. First half Bradley Davies was very good but faded badly.

    Big negatives: lineout (again) scrum creaked against a pretty mediocre Irish scrum.

    Sadly although Wales played the best of all the 6N teams, there is a serious problem in the forwards. The line out will struggle badly for the rest of the 6N if Ryan Jones goes to second row, the scrum is badly underpowered (despite best efforts of Adam J) and the fault is the second rows, and the balance of the back row is wrong. The last point sounds like heresy, and I greatly admire the first choice back row of Warburton, Toby and Lydiate but whilst they are individually the best players in each position as a unit is does not work. It does not work for two reasons: none of them are line out threats (although Lydiate could be) and there simply is not enough bulk for scrums and driving mauls.

  • Comment number 51.

    It's a good point Justin150. It's been repeatedly pointed out that Wales' lineout is not their strong point. With Scotland's big pack and strong lineout (any side with someone 6ft10 in the line out is going to have an advantage) this may well be an area Scotland can capatilise on. It's how well Wales adapt to this different threat that will be a judgement on their strength as a team.

    Can I just say before we slap Gatland on the back for admitting it should have been a red he only did this after being put on the spot. He started off claiming he didn't see it properly and then when told they were going to show him the clip he quickly backtracked to say what we could all tell, that it was definitely a red card. Not really owning up more being forced into an admission.

  • Comment number 52.

    Anthony, #46 - I would absolutely agree with you up to 64th minute when he went down for treatment, after that ... maybe you should watch the game again from that point? I'm not knocking Jones for lack of effort, but he was absolutely out on his feet, I'm saying it was an error by Gatland and co.

  • Comment number 53.

    How long have Wales been playing with a dysfunctional lineout? Bearing in mind how good Ireland's defensive line out is, how different will the Scottish threat be? Wales don't kick to touch much, I think Ireland had only 5 lineouts. Wales had 10 and lost 4 of them, but scored from 1 and threatened the line from others. Wales could beat Scotland with 40% possession. Given Wales's defence and obvious backline advantage parity at the scrum will be more than enough.

  • Comment number 54.

    Isn't it about time that the ex International pundits only gave their apparent 'we've played the game at the highest level therefore we are 100% correct in everything we say views' only attended matches where their own National team is not playing then there won't be the gut wrenching sound of Jonathan Davies (magnificent player) arguing that Stephen Ferris so called tip tackle was a penalty but not a yellow card, I would suggest that if it really was a tip tackle offence then it should have been a red card not just a yellow card. My opinion is that it wasn't a red or a yellow or even a penalty and guess what, Ireland 21 Wales 20 result perhaps not the right result on the day.
    Unbiased England supporter, worrying about playing both Ireland and Wales in this years 6N but hopeful for 2014 6N and beyond!

  • Comment number 55.

    #50 You need to know that we had several key players out in the scrum but still held our own, and watching the game again I cant see at all where we so call creaked??? I do agree however the lineout yet again was a mess!
    #51
    You need to look back at the match when gats was asked the question "do you think it was a dangerous tackle" he said I'm not sure, yes, but then they played it for him and when he saw it and being an expert at the game made a brave and honest statement by agreeing it was a red.
    But credit to Ireland they did themselves proud, such a class outfit, dont drop your heads lads you could still quite easil;y win the championship? The only team that will give you any trouble is France.
    Celtic power....

  • Comment number 56.

    As a few people have now pointed out, it should have been red for Bradley Davies and yellow for Ryan. Also take into account Evans' height when considering the Ferris tackle.

    All in all a great game, and a deserved win. Backs clearly superior to opponents but not sure about Cuthbert and less showboating from Phillips would be appreciated. Welsh scrum superb considering that four of the first-choice front five were absent. Pity about the line-out. This has been a problem for so long I suspect it's genetic. Winning the title could come down to goal kicking, another weakness.

  • Comment number 57.

    This is a very important time for Wales as a Rugby nation as they needed to build on the successes (and disppointments) of the world cup. Red Cards and controversy aside they deserved to win as they were far the better side. Ireland were what they always are clinical and take their opportunities but did not deserve to win.

    I fully expect Wales to go and win the GS now. The big advantage is that they have 3 games at home and England are a side in transition so going to twickenham to win the GS is not as formidable a task as it once might have been.

    I think now also that Rhys Priestland should not be first choice kicker. He is great out of hand but his place kicking is a bit dodgy. Leigh Halfpenny must be the man.

    WRT the "tackle". Barnes quite clearly said he did not see anything so was asking Pearson for his view of the situation who said that the situation warranted a yellow, obviously it warranted a red but I do not think that you can blame Barnes for that.

    The IRB need to make it clear whether it is RED or YELLOW for those tackles. Jonathan Davies yesterday said no-one had been injured at the top level from a tackle like that. Brian O'Driscoll and the Lions spring to mind. Not many football players have been injured froma two footed challenge but that doesn't mean to say it should not be banned.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    The IRB memo says:

    In our view, this decision correctly highlights that the lifting of players in the tackle and then either forcing or dropping them to the ground is dangerous and must be dealt with severely.
    To summarise, the possible scenarios when a tackler horizontally lifts a player off the
    ground:
    ∞ The player is lifted and then forced or “speared” into the ground. A red card
    should be issued for this type of tackle.
    ∞ The lifted player is dropped to the ground from a height with no regard to the
    player’s safety. A red card should be issued for this type of tackle.
    ∞ For all other types of dangerous lifting tackles, it may be considered a penalty
    or yellow card is sufficient.
    Referees and Citing Commissioners should not make their decisions based on what
    they consider was the intention of the offending player. Their decision should be based
    on an objective assessment (as per Law 10.4 (e)) of the circumstances of the tackle.


    Brad Davies over reacted to cynical foul play by Donnacha Ryan. Ryan's shoulder hit on Adam Jones neck area was worthy of a red card. Brad reacted in the heat of the game in a way what many would in similar situations and was fortunate not to get a red. Ferris' tackle clearly came in to the yellow card zone.

    Well played Wales - some great back play and stirling work by the forwards especially a rejuvenated Ryan Jones. After Saturdays game at Murrayfield - yawn, yawn it was great to see some open rugby from both teams.

    On the basis of the IRB memo I still think that Warburton should have been yellow carded in the RWC !!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 60.

    redpirate I agree with pretty much all you said there. However I would say that for the Davies no clarifaction from the IRB should have been necessary. If this had happened when he tackled a guy with the ball in hand then first off it probably should still have been a red but there would be more debate but the fact that it was miles away from the ball to a guy who hadn't had the ball for ages means it should have been a clear red despite any ruling on dump tackles. Let's be honest it wasn't a tackle as the guy didn't have the ball. It was just a piece of dangerous play. Pearson should be hanging his head in shame and the only justification I can think of is that he wasn't completely focused on it either. If not he bottled the decision.

    I would also add that it's very early days to be predicting a Grand Slam for Wales. If you were English you'd be running the risk of being called arrogant but as you're Welsh it's just called having faith in your team ;-)

  • Comment number 61.

    Bradley Davies should have been sent off but it wouldn't have made any difference to the result so Ireland quite right not to make to much fuss about it.

    Pulsating game and for once, Wales had luck on their side, although they probably deserved it for the quality of their running game.

    Scotland and Italy will not be a problem and England were far from impressive so it all looks good for a grand slam showdown with France.

  • Comment number 62.

    Very enjoyable game all in all. Wales really do need to rectify our line out issues. It is one of the few problems that stop us being a top 3 team.

    As far as grandslams go I am reluctant to even think about that. I really think England will have a say in this tournament, they were admittedly fortunate against Scotland but the fortune was borne out of dogged determination and grit. I like the new look England side, very grounded, and grafters all, they looked a disciplined outfit and will only get better, in saying that Scotland really beat themselves. I wasn't overly impressed by France, more so with the new patient style of play Italy adopted, they deserved more!

    I hate t say it but I think England will ruin our grandslam/triple crown hopes, and due to the tight points difference yesterday Ireland will still have a strong shout!

  • Comment number 63.

    Irish fan here - Red cards and yellow cards aside Wales were the better team and keeping in mind who was missing Ireland have some searching questions to ask of themselves. Hope Wales win the GS now.
    Paris next for us! Merde!

  • Comment number 64.

    Far too early to talk about the GS redpirate and I thought France was the final game for Wales?
    I think the IRB have been clear enough about the tip tackle to be fair. But the rugby laws are made to allow refs to interpret them, at elite level the problem being public outcry for both consistency and empathy with the game. You can't have both. There was much talk from the pundits and Gatland about "intent" but it's a word carefully avoided in the laws.
    JD was talking about tip tackles not spear tackles, the BOD incident was a spear but the laws have been written to define a tip tackle as dangerous, far broader than the definition of a spear.
    No doubt Pearson and Barnes will be having a chat with their assessors.

  • Comment number 65.

    Lots of remarks about Barnes 'not seeing' anything. He's very like Wenger in that respect. Too often he doesn't make a decision at all or pushes responsibility for decision making onto someone else, all because he 'didn't see it'. For me, he too selective about what he sees.

    A questions for stattos out there. How many times does he go to the TMO for tries? Does he just 'not see' them, or is it because he's not in the right position?

  • Comment number 66.

    Just to put my comments into perspective, I am English, so suggesting Wales for the GS is done through gritted teeth!

  • Comment number 67.

    Doncha Ryan did not deserve the potentially career ending tip tackle but he does deserve a ban himself for the cheap shot 'charge' on a prone and ..'on the right side by the way' Adam Jones.

    Jones was lucky not to have another busted shoulder 'a la' Lions v S.Africa.
    Obviously two wrongs dont make a right but the last thing the 6 nations needs is a psuedo Bakkies Botha. Bradley over-reacted and is banned

  • Comment number 68.

    @8 - Yep. It was a cheap shot by Ryan. He could still be cited for it. The irony is that he could get the same number of weeks ban as Davies, because Davies was only shown a yellow card.

  • Comment number 69.

    A lot of posters on this thread seem to be under the impression that Wales were 'lucky', or were 'gifted' a win. Have they forgotten the deliberate knock on when Wales were a pass away from a try? Or how about the disallowed try? Or the several kicks that were missed? Or how about dominating the first half yet going in at the break 10-5 down? I'd say Wales were very UNlucky.

    Ireland played very well, but Wales were undoubtedly the best team.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    To Sexybadger missing your kicks isn't unlucky it's a lack of skill and/or composure. The disallowed try was justified as no one could confirm he grounded the ball, deliberate knock on is debateable.

    I'd go back to my original statement that in some respects they were justified winners as they were the better team on the day. In other respects they were lucky as they had 2 key reffing decisions go in their favour.

  • Comment number 72.

    To the lastkingofengland

    If we making judgements that Wales were lucky with key decisions. What about the blatant deliberate knock on when Wales had three men over to score the try in first ten minutes. That was a sin bin and not even a penalty awarded. You make your own luck, pressure creates penalty opportunities.

  • Comment number 73.

    HAVE TO AGREE WITH hermmy COMMENT 14.
    O'GARAS DROP OUTS WERE TRAGIC

  • Comment number 74.

    I hope Wales win this 6 Nations. Like all England, Scotland and Italy fans, I am an impartial observer to the battle for the Championship this year, having just seen my team edge streakily into the lead in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

    Wales may have had more than their fair slice of luck yesterday, but they play much better rugby, with more heart and intensity, than the attritional garbage served up by the aforementioned trio. If Wales can turn France over, the title is surely theirs. Good luck to them - here's hoping they continue to get a better rub of the green than they did at the World Cup. Though selecting a decent place-kicker might help, too!

  • Comment number 75.

    As an Irish fan, I'd have no complaints. The better team won on the day. Ireland can get better and will still have a big part to play in this championship.

  • Comment number 76.

    What a great game of rugby. 5 tries and could have been more. The welsh backs were on fire and Ireland played well for parts pf the game. I switched the England Scotland game at half time as there was paint drying outside. The French still look the best best, and didnt get into top gear against Italy.Couldnt help hearing the rubbish espoused by Dally - take hime off please!

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 70 Housejamrabbit - in many ways you're right, but sadly you are also wrong. A good old fashioned haymaker to rearrange D Ryan's features for a week or two would have been the correct action.

    I'm not condoning violence, just a good old fashioned punch in the face.

  • Comment number 78.

    These arguements can go on and on. It's about time we had a bit of luck. Ref's interpretation have a lot to be desrired and consistency is up and down, but look at football! They have split seconds to make the decision and sometimes it's wrong.

    The yellow card made little difference at the end - it was a penalty - he kicked it - whistle blown - that's that.

    Even though for the 1st time in my memory we have strength in depth we could do with Wyn Jones back as we need more height in the lineout for sure, glad we have Scotland next and not away to England, hoping Wyn Jones can make that one and hopefully Gethin Jenkins too.

    George North - Jeremy Guscott was purring in the commentary box with his lay off for the try and George North is now the youngest player in rugby Union HISTORY to score double figures in tries at International level.

    The future is bright the future is RED

  • Comment number 79.

    There is no doubt that Bradley Davies should have received a red card for his actions, but I do have a question to pose around what will happen regarding a ban. For his actions, he was sent from the field for 10 minutes, and as a result, Ireland took advantage of being a man up and scored. As he has already been punished once for his action, will any ban be reduced to take the sin bit into account?

  • Comment number 80.

    I agree with most posters that Bradley Davies should have seen red - I think brainless just about sums it up. As for the criticism of Warren Gatland, he did not attempt to deny the offence, he said that he couldn't comment as he had not seen it but went on to say that others in the box who did see it said that it should have been red. When shown the clip by the interviewer (does she want Roger Cooke's job?) he had no hesitation in condemning the tackle. What a contrast to Graham Henry after the O'Driscoll incident!

    I don't think Ferris should have been carded, but it was definitely a penalty. Before anyone else says that he kept control of Ben Evans, look at the replay - Toby Faletau was the one who kept control and slowed his descent to ground. If he had not had the forethought to jump in and help his teammate, the tackle would not have looked quite so innocent.

    I agree that Barnes was very lenient about playing the ball on the floor, and attackers going offside at the ruck. How many times did the Irish prop appear in front of the ruck without attempting to take out a Welsh player on the way? As far as Bowe's "deliberate knock-on" went, Hook could have been penalised for exactly the same offence later in the game, so swings and roundabouts. Unfortunately, these days the refs seem to choose to ignore certain offences (crooked feed to scrum) and concentrate on others.

    All in all though, a nail-biting game and the correct result for this unashamedly biased and rose-tinted Welsh supporter!

  • Comment number 81.

    #55 I am fully aware that Wales had several key players out in the forward but with one exception it would not have made any difference. You and I can disagree about creaking - I did not say it snapped, just creaked and Ireland traditionally have a very weak scrum.

    Lets assume that the first choice Welsh pack is Gethin, Rees, A Jones, AWJ, Charteris, Warburton, Toby F and Lydiate.

    Actual forward line against Ireland was Gill, Bennett, A Jones, B Davies, Evans, R Jones, Warburton, Faletau.

    Dealing with the differences:

    Gethin v Gill. Scrummaging is not Gethin's strong point. He is not bad and will not let anyone down but he is picked for his other great points. Gill looks out of his depth

    Bennett v Rees: nothing to choose between this two in the scrum and tight. Rees is a bit more dynamic around park. Personally I do not attribute Welsh line out woes totally to hookers - although neither are great at throwing in.

    Locks: AWJ + Chateris v Davies+ Evans. Actually thought Evans had a very good game. This is an area of the Welsh game that really concerns me. When AWJ came into international rugby he looked world class, the new POC, and then stagnated. Chateris had a great RWC as a defender of note but up til then was simply been a big ineffective lump. Bradley is potentially a great player but lightweight (by which I mean not that he is physically light but that he is not capable of physically imposing himself in the tight - much more rangy) and needs a big lump beside him.

    Ryan Jones v Lydiate: Ryan has been a world class back row but maybe his time is coming to an end. But there is one big difference between him and Lydiate - in the line out Ryan is a threat, Lydiate is not. Scrum also seems to work better when Ryan is on so I think he uses his power a bit better.

    So other than Gill the changes should not have been too significant.

    Wales have a dodgy lineout for the simply reason the hooker does not have enough options. Wales have two targets, most other nations 3 and sometime 4, keeps the defence guessing.

    As for the scrum is Adam Jones gets injured this will be a major weakness, because Wales simply do not have enough power. If Wales get dragged into a close to the fringes power game they are in trouble. Personally I would move Toby to blindside and look for a big powerhouse no 8 who is also a line out threat - basically need Ryan but about 5-7 years younger!

  • Comment number 82.

    As I said Anthony the 'blatant deliberate knock on' as you call it is debateable and pefectly fine for the ref not to give it if that's his view point. You can say pressure creates penalties, which it does, but Ferris' wasn't a penalty let alone a yellow. As I said Wales were the better team on the day and at the end of it if you score the most point in a game you generally deserve to win however a few calls went in their favour. Similarly in the same fixture last year where the linesman's call created the try that never was.

    Ultimately though Wales won this game and were the better team on the day.

  • Comment number 83.

    Great way to end the first weekend, I dont think I can add anything that has yet to be mentioned in another post. Though I do find it astonishing that a team who had their captain sent off in their last competitive game (finally admitting it was right decision), do another dangerous tackle in the very next game. What a stupid and irresponsible action.

    Wales look good, well the carried on from where they left off, but I am confident that we'll win the 6nations, with the worlds best players leading our men

  • Comment number 84.

    'As he has already been punished once for his action, will any ban be reduced to take the sin bit into account?'

    Possibly in terms of what's supposed to happen in what will actually happen I doubt it. At the end of the day pretty much much everyone has said he was leniently dealt with by the ref so if it's going to be taken into account it will probably happen the other way round.

    Personally I'm hoping for a lengthy ban to show that this behaviour really isn't appropriate. First off it was a very dangerous thing to do. All the replays show that it was incredibly close to the full force being placed on the dropped players neck which could have seriously injured the player. Secondly, and in a lot of respects to me more importantly, this was a completely off the ball incident. It wasn't a player getting carried away when going for a player with the ball it was a deliberate incident to attack an opposition player. Even if Davies had carried out a regulation tackle he should still receive a ban in my opinion as it's got nothing to do with playing the game. As he carried out an extremely dangerous tackle, I think everyone agrees it was worse than Warburton's tackle in the world cup, the ban should be a heavy one and if he gets a chance to play another game in the six nations I'll be disappointed. Especially given that he doesn't have the best disciplinary record to begin with.

  • Comment number 85.

    A thrilling occasion with plenty of drama. First things first, Bradley Davies of course should have been sent off, and plenty agree with those lines elsewhere: http://eye-on-wales.com/2012/02/05/six-nations-donkey-awards/ However, Wales would have won that game. The attacking ability going forward with 14 men matched the best that Ireland had to offer, and the stamina shown in the closing minutes seemed to suggest that, Davies on the field or not, that Wales would have been competing in the area of the field from which the decisive penalty game. The sense of injustice mauy rightly be felt about the punishment, but the result was well earned, with any sense of luck proving to be irrevelant given the Welsh showing in the final ten minutes.

  • Comment number 86.

    One thing I noticed that Barnes and his assistants missed yesterday was the Irish holding down Welsh players on the fringes. On the first instance Barnes told the Irish player FOUR times to "let go". Surely it should be one warning at the most and then a penalty?
    The assistant also missed a blatant repeat of this tactic in the lead up to Bowe's late try. The Welsh player was repeatedly hitting the arm of the Irish player to try and break free. It must have been visible to the official.
    That aside, it was a great game that Wales deserved to shade because of their greater intent to play attacking rugby. However, I can see problems against England and France due to lack of possession. I also think Ireland can win their remaining games if they don't panic after this defeat.
    Whatever happens, I hope I don't have to sit through another game like Scotland v England. That will do more harm to rugby than Bradley Davies' moment of lunacy ever will.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    In all fairness from what i saw Wales were the better team.

  • Comment number 89.

    TheLastKingofEngland - A tip tackle is a tip tackle and Stephen Ferris committed a tip tackle which is a penalty. (I suggest you look at it again and the angle Wayne Barnes had running towards it shows how high Ian Evans legs went above the middle plain) Without condoning for on minute Bradley Davies tackle you fail to point out the illegal way in which Donncha Ryan went into Rhys Gill or the illegal tackle on L Halfpenny by Rob Kearney which should have been given a yellow card. I thought Wayne Barnes had a good consistent game. I have taken one or two words out of this post so whoever complained can read it again it`s based on fact as seen during the game. Not meant to be offensive or abusive to anyone.

  • Comment number 90.

    Hi Anglophone

    Your anti-Welsh bias has been slightly more muted than on John Beattie's blog. A few questions relating to both blogs:

    How do you know that the Welsh players are arrogant? Was Sam Warburton arrogant during the World Cup? The only arrogance I have become aware of over recent months are the accusations from some English players about the arrogance of others during the World Cup -in the leaked report to the RFU?

    Do you ever read the Welsh media? Most of the Welsh players get regularly savaged by the press and bloggers for their performance for their regions. It keeps their feet firmly on the ground.

    Did you really think Wales are predictable? In the last 3 minutes they moved with composure through 15 phases to get from their 20m line to Ireland's for the final score.

    Which match (E v S or I v W) do you think was the most enjoyable to the neutral observer?

    Lastly I am not sure about BBC bias towards Wales. I think the Beeb is more fairer than the supposedly 'British' media where coverage of the Celtic nations is puny compared to the attention given to England.

    Perhaps we can continue this exchange after the next round of matches?

  • Comment number 91.

    TheLastKingofEngland - Wayne Barnes quite rightly penalised Stephen Ferris for a tip tackle, Donncha Ryan went into Rhys Gill which all pundits including Keith Wood stated that was the start of the incident and should have been penalised, Rob Kearney blatantly commits a foul on Leigh Halfpenny yet you say nothing only to defend Stephen Ferris. Unlike most of the Welsh people posting on here who none condone and will not defend what Bradley Davies did. I pretty obvious to most posting on this thread and not at all hard to work out where you are coming from. Go on complain again about the truth being posted.

  • Comment number 92.

    I very much love how this blog starts: "...the strains of Hymns and Arias drowned out the booing from Irish supporters..." I too was greatly rejoicing at the final whistle!
    Now, regarding the yellow card to Bradley Davies, lest we forget, I must highlight, from a historical perspective, the mother of all tip tackles, the benchmark, was criminally carried out in 2005 by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu, on Brian O'Driscoll. I will readily admit that it is a great injustice to me that the All Blacks got away with it then (and they still do...?!). So, OK, this point may be irrelevant to this discussion, but it is important to me to perhaps keep some things in perspective...

    On another note, I would like to commend the Welsh management for giving Andy Powell limited playing opportunities of late. In my mind, as part of the sum of the whole equation, there's little coincidence that the resurgence in Welsh rugby coincides with that player's diminished playing opportunities. I have called him a 'waste of space' in the past, and I apologise because my appraisal remains unchanged. So, I am grateful that Tipuric was given the chance at half time instead!

  • Comment number 93.

    Sad to record that Wales despite their brilliance and flair are still producing players practiced in the mould of "the dark arts " as demonstrated by certain trophy players in the corresponding games in 1978 and 1969. The offending gentleman in this instance should get at least 4-6 weeks! As for poor Ireland, this team, as one commentator remarked, is a callow one and simply going nowhere. I would wager that, given the respective strengths and potential of the two sides the current loss sequence of 3 in a row will shortly resemble something like it was in the the 70's- 7 in a row and counting ................................

  • Comment number 94.

    I wouldn't get too upset by Anglophone, his post today was quite sweet compared to the drivel flowing forth during the World Cup. Calling Wales predictable is hilarious whichever way you look at it. I'm sure the Irish backs saw that backhand pass out of the tackle coming a mile off, they just wanted to let Wales score for the beauty of the sport, er, yeah...

    Predictability is only a bad thing if you can't execute. Look at Scotland, predictable and rubbish.

  • Comment number 95.

    Ridiculous tackle by Bradley Davies OFF THE BALL. The Stephen Ferris one wasn't even a penalty since it was controlled. Ridiculous by the touch judge. Typical Englishman. Would be fine if Wales had won it with out the spear tackle, but quite frankly Davies should be banned for a year to get the message out that spear tackling is wrong!!

  • Comment number 96.

    Padds31

    Predictability is only a bad thing if you can't execute. Look at Scotland, predictable and rubbish.

    That comment may come back and bite you next Sunday never write Scotland off they have done it many times in Cardiff. Wales were good but please do not under estimate or rubbish Scotland they are not going to lay down to be walked over. They could well click on the day. I am not Scottish by the way just pointing out beware read what Ryan Jones on the BBC web site that is a far better attitude than you have posted.

  • Comment number 97.

    Don't really understand all this fuss about the yellow card given to Bradley Davies. Yes it was red. Yes it was a horrible tackle. But it would have made absolutely no difference to the result. To be able to score a try when down to 14 men justifies the credit given to Wales, and shows they're not 'predictable'.

    I think George North was ultimately the difference between the two teams, and a huge credit to Wales. How he was not man of the match is beyond me, his physicality combined perfectly with his class, as he showed when he set up Johnathon Davies' second try.

    The yellow to Ferris was a little harsh. But again, it would have made no difference to the result, because in my eyes he did give a penalty away with that tackle.

    But I think the real problem here is the confusion on the issue of 'tip tackles', and I think as soon as the IRB clarify exactly what warrants a red, a yellow and a penalty, it will improve the game and players will have clear boundaries as to whats acceptable and not, rather than rely on the referees, often clouded, judgement.

  • Comment number 98.

    No offence was meant Ricardo, to you or Scots, but I am a frank person and Scotland's rugby is so one-dimensional. Similarly I never hesitated to criticise Welsh performances during the dark ages. Scotland will get better, just like eventually Wales will get worse. But right now I'd be massively surprised by anything other than a Welsh win next week.

    Just to point out: not uttering the words GS as that would be the wrong attitude.

  • Comment number 99.

    "..before Stephen Ferris's high tackle on Ian Evans presented Leigh Halfpenny with the opportunity to win the game"

    What high tackle was that then Bryn? Caught him round the neck did he? Pardon me while I throw a brick through my laptop screen and send the BBC the bill.

  • Comment number 100.

    It's all been said on the Ireland v Wales game: albeit I think that Welsh supporters are underestimating Scotland and they could rue their comments next Sunday.

    I would, however, wish to pose a question. How is it that the Six Nations is the only 15 a side Rugby competition in the world that does not use the scoring scheme adopted in; The World Cup, The Heineken Cup, The Aviva League, The Rabo Pro-Direct Super 12, the English lower leagues, the Welsh lower leagues, etc., etc.?

    At least Ireland would have earned a point for a spirited performance and England might have been encouraged to adopt a more positive approach. Surely this would lead to far more positive play overall?

 

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