2018 European Championship: Wales beat Ireland 40-8 to clinch World Cup spot

Ben Evans reaches through a crowd to score Wales' fourth try
Ben Evans reaches through a crowd to score Wales' fourth try
European Championship: Wales v Ireland
Wales (20) 40
Tries: Butler, Lloyd, Bennion, Evans, Williams, Ralph Goals: Olds 8
Ireland (4) 8
Tries: Grix, King

Wales claimed a place at the 2021 World Cup with a 40-8 European Championship win over Ireland in Wrexham.

Tries from Chester Butler, Rhodri Lloyd, Gavin Bennion, Ben Evans, Rhys Williams and Josh Ralph saw Wales finish second in the table.

John Kear's side and European champions France qualify automatically for the World Cup finals in England.

Scott Grix and George King scored tries for Ireland, who along with Scotland must play further qualifiers in 2019.

Wales' healthy win was underpinned by the kicking of James Olds, who added eight goals.

Butler got Wales on the front foot with an early try, touching down from Ralph's grubber kick.

Olds missed the conversion, but added a penalty goal when Ireland's Ethan Ryan was penalised for a high tackle.

Wales conceded four successive penalties to heap pressure on themselves, but determined defence prevented Ireland from crossing their try line.

Having survived that scare, Wales produced a second try that was a carbon-copy of the first - although this time it was Elliott Jenkins stabbing the ball in behind Ireland for Lloyd to score.

Forward Bennion - who had joined Swinton the previous day after being released by Salford - came off the bench to barge through some poor tackling for a third home try.

With Olds having added two conversions in between a penalty goal, Wales were in charge.

Ireland did get on the scoreboard before the break through Grix, who took an outside line to go over for an unconverted try to make it 20-4 at half-time.

But Wales restored their lead soon after the restart when Evans somehow twisted in the grasp of four tacklers to dab the ball over the line.

Olds converted that try and added a penalty goal, as Wales opted to take points whenever they were on offer rather than go for another set of six.

Ireland's task was not helped when Tyrone McCarthy and Jack Higginson crashed into each other trying to tackle a Welsh player and the team-mates had to leave the field for treatment.

Ben Morris seized on a loose ball to send Wales' record try scorer Williams in for his 22nd touchdown, marking his 30th appearance as he joined Jordan James and Ian Watson as their country's joint record cap holders.

George King added a second try for Ireland, but Ralph struck back for Wales as the half-back dropped his shoulder to wrong-foot a tiring defence and scamper over.

Wales finished with 12 men when Morris was sin-binned late on for a challenge in the air, but there was still time for Olds to kick his eighth goal and add extra gloss.

WALES SQUAD: Dalton Grant (Bradford Bulls), Josh Ralph (Easts Tigers), Chester Butler, Connor Davies, Curtis Davies, Dan Fleming, Sion Jones (Halifax), Ben Evans, Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (London Broncos), Elliott Jenkins (Rochdale Hornets), Gavin Bennion (Swinton Lions), Ben Morris (St Helens), Mike Butt, Rhodri Lloyd (both Swinton Lions), Jake Emmitt (Toronto Wolfpack), James Olds (West Brisbane Panthers), Morgan Evans, Steve Parry (West Wales Raiders).

IRELAND SQUAD: Michael Ward (Batley Bulldogs), Gregg McNally, Ethan Ryan (Bradford Bulls), Connor Phillips (Belfast Stags), Peter Ryan (Coventry Bears), Ed O'Keefe (Galway Tribesmen), Ronan Michael (Huddersfield Giants RL), Lewis Bienek (Hull FC), Gareth Gill (Longhorns RL), Tyrone McCarthy (Salford Red Devils), James Bentley (St Helens), Will Hope (Swinton Lions), Liam Finn, Scott Grix (Huddersfield Giants RL), George King (Wakefield Trinity), Alan McMahon (Waterford Vikings), Liam Byrne, Dec O'Donnell, Jack Higginson (Wigan Warriors).

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