VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Wales V Ireland (22-30), Six Nations 2013
Sunday 3 Feb 2013 4:16 a.m.
It took a 10-0 lead to quieten down the Millennium Stadium as their beloved Wales looked under pressure.
Simon Zebo had crossed out wide, run it under the posts and Jonathan Sexton converted, later adding a penalty.
But when Cian Healy scored Ireland’s second try in the 14th minute, the Six Nations champions and their fans were positively mute; stunned, trailing 17-0.
It was all Ireland. Sexton nailed a second penalty to add to the two converted tries and it was 20-0; the Welsh on the back foot and Ireland full of confidence.
Ireland had all the possession, Wales kept dropping theirs.
In fact, it was 32 minutes into the match before Wales had any sustained period inside the Irish 22. Even then, they could only manage three points through the boot of Leigh Halfpenny when Ireland was guilty of holding onto the ball.
On the stroke of halftime, the visitor’s had added another penalty to lead 23-3 at the break.
If Wales were praying for divine halftime inspiration, then they’d have been devastated when the inspiration came from Oreland’s Brian O’Driscoll – and a 30-3 lead.
With a touch over half an hour left on the clock, Alex Cuthbert gave his Wales side some hope when he cut in from an angle, running hard and fast; the Halfpenny conversion back to 20 points at 30-10.
The Millennium Stadium were beginning to rediscover their voice. That voice heightened on the 57 minute mark when Ireland hooker Rory Best was sin-binned, a product of repeated team infringement from an Ireland side who suddenly were feeling the pinch.
Then it roared.
Halfpenny went over in the corner, the man advantage creating space and with the hour-mark almost up Wales had their tail up and had cut the lead to 30-15.
Wales had another chance within minutes of the Halfpenny try needed to be taken but a scrambling Ireland hung on, their defence ragged but able to begin to turn time into an enemy against Wales.
Enter more drama: 70 minutes gone and Ireland halfback Conor Murray heads to the bin.
Bang, bang, bang went the Welsh. The Irish – defiant.
Needing three scores with just six minutes remaining on the clock, the task became too big, even for a rampant Wales.
But someone had forgotten to tell Wales substitute Craig Mitchell, bullocking over and the TMO given him the nod. The conversion was good and Wales trailed by only eight points, 30-22.
But time ticked on, and Wales held on to claim the first win of this year’s Six Nations.