Man of the match Carty speaking to Channel 4: “Our defence for most of that game was really, really good against a quality Welsh outfit … at times we could have held on to the ball a bit better bit but credit to the lads who came on, they gave us a great platform.”
Full-time! Wales 17-22 Ireland
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will be thrilled with that. Wales coach Warren Gatland, hoping for a happy send-off from Cardiff, not so much. The visitors looked sharper in defence and attack for much of the match and were deserved winners. As so often Wales finished strongly but they couldn’t quite make up the ground after a poor first half.
79 min: Into the final minute, and Ireland have the put-in at a scrum after a super tackle by Ringrose forced a Welsh handling error on halfway.
77 min: Wales, of course, are currently ranked number one in the world but defeat here would see the All Blacks retake top spot.
Try! Wales 17-22 Ireland (Rhys Patchell)
75 min: Wales spin it wide from the scrum, then try to drive the ball on to the base of the post, before Patchell finds a few yards of space on the left, and dives over. Can Wales turn this around? Patchell converts his own score confidently and we are in for a stunning finish!
73 min: Wales storm down to the other end after the disallowed try, and win the put-in at a scrum under the Irish posts. A try here and we will have a thrilling finish.
71 min: Disallowed try for Ireland. Ireland’s Bundee Aki takes James Davies in the air, Ringrose mops up the ball and crosses in the corner, but linesman Jérôme Garcès tells Poite to consult the replay and the try is duly ruled out. Loud boos ring around the stadium after the replay, but no yellow card is forthcoming. That try would have settled it.
69 min: Wales prop Leon Brown is penalised again at the scrum. Factor in his earlier yellow card, and it’s fair to say he probably hasn’t furthered his case for inclusion in that final 31-man squad tomorrow.
67 min: A quality kick to the corner gives Wales an attacking line-out a couple of metres out. Luke McGrath then pulls off an excellent try-saving tackle on Elliot Dee. Ireland are under sustained pressure for the first time in the match.
66 min: Wales pour forward again. Patchell is pulling the strings having made a big impact since his introduction. This is what the home fans came for today and they still have more than 10 minutes to mount a recovery. One feature of the Gatland era has been a immense level of fitness throughout the squad. If they finish strong, maybe they can turn this around.
Try! Wales 10-22 Ireland (Owen Lane)
Brilliant try by the Wales No 14! Back to a full complement of players, the hosts mount one of their best attacks of the match. It’s spun out wide to Lane who finishes smartly, stepping inside a tackler and flopping over. The extras are added by Patchell and it’s game on …
61 min: Ireland’s Luke McGrath comes on for Kieran Marmion, a couple of minutes after Addison was replaced by Ringrose. Rory Best is on for Ireland too, as well as Devin Toner and Tadhg Furlong. Not a bad few players to come on and close this match out. Meanwhile Wales are back up to 15.
60 min: At least the penalty try relieved the pressure for Wales. They thunder down to the other end after the restart, and nearly shove a rolling maul over for their first try of the match. But Ireland hold firm.
Penalty try! Wales 3-22 Ireland
Another squeeze by Ireland and Poite blows his whistle and awards a penalty try for repeated scrum infringments by Wales.
55 min: Attacking scrum for Ireland against 14-man Wales. Addison tries a cute little grubber kick to the corner, and doesn’t get it right, but Poite takes it back for another penalty to Ireland. Wales are under relentless pressure, their scrum is being dominated, and Joe Schmidt is probably pondering that 80 minutes is a long time in rugby.
53 min: Ireland are across in the corner but it’s a forward pass. They are knocking on the door, though, and Wales need to find something from somewhere. I have no idea where.
Yellow card! (Leon Brown)
51 min: A long spell of pressure near the Wales line ends with Carty kicking for the corner. Ringrose can’t gather it, but the ref takes it back for an earlier scrum infringement by Leon Brown. He is sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes, having only come on at half-time, and doubtless Gatland will be far from impressed. Wales are not going to get back into this one while defending their own line …
50 min: Gatland has changed it up already. Tomos Williams comes on for Wales in place of Aled Davies, while Jake Ball comes in for Bradley Davies, and Jonah Holmes replaces Steff Evans.
49 min: Aki again motors into contact and makes headway near the Welsh try line. Ireland spin the ball wide, and a try looks the most likely outcome, but Wales gather their defence impressively and keep making those hits, eventually bringing a knock-on. Another try for Ireland and it would surely be too much ground for Wales to make up?
46 min: Wales are penalised for collapsing a scrum. After a much better start, they’ve surrendered the advantage again, as Ireland kick for the corner.
44 min: A better start for the hosts, with a bright attack down the right wing straight from kick-off. Can they find a way back into this and give Warren Gatland a happy send-off from Cardiff?
Second half kick-off!
Three changes for Wales. They have swapped both props – Samson Lee off for Leon Brown, Rhys Carre off for Rob Evans. Rhys Patchell has come on at fly-half in place of Jarrod Evans. For Ireland, Dave Kearney is on in place of double try-scorer Jacob Stockdale.
Wales hooker Ken Owens assesses the first half, speaking to Channel 4: “The boys look a bit rusty … there are some nerves, some of the boys are too eager to impress. When we have held on to the ball, we have won a couple of penalties, and put Ireland under pressure … [Gatland] had been a wonderful servant, hopefully we can send him off with a nice victory in Cardiff.”
Half-time: Wales 3-15 Ireland
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will be extremely heartened by that first-half display by his experimental team. They look sharp, they look hungry and they look a level above their hosts just at the moment. Jack Carty missed a tricky penalty with the last kick of the half, with Ireland again pressuring the Wales defence. Andrew Conway’s running has been a highlight for the visitors and Jacob Stockdale, who was guaranteed to be in Japan regardless, has scored two good tries, the second of which was a brilliant individual effort. Warren Gatland will get to switch on the half-time hairdryer in Cardiff one last time …
36 min: A super off-load by Kilcoyne in midfield sends Aki charging through into the Wales 22. Ireland are at it again, asking plenty of questions of this home defence. Another try before half-time would probably reflect their superiority.
34min: Safe to say that if this was meant to be a final victory in Cardiff for Warren Gatland, Ireland have not read the script. As we said before kick-off, Joe Schmidt’s team do still have time to hit form before the World Cup. They have wasted no time here and this experimental team looks a step ahead of Wales at the moment.
Try! Wales 3-15 Ireland (Jacob Stockdale)
28 min: Now this is a piece of magic from a more familiar Irish back, Jacob Stockdale. An Aaron Shingler pass falls loose for Wales near the halfway line and Stockdale is on to it like a flash. He kicks the loose ball ahead, sprints clear, collects the ball and dives over. A really superb, opportunistic score by Stockdale for his second try of the match. Ireland are looking a lot sharper than against England last week. Carty misses a tough conversion attempt from out on the touchline.
27 min: Ireland’s No 8 is penalised for off side right in front of the posts. Evans pulls a simple penalty to the left and the score stays at 10-3 to Ireland.
23 min: What’s going on here? We’ve got a streaker, or at least a pitch invader. Romain Poite delays a line-out while the stewards demonstrate their rugby skills – probably too late for them to make the plane to Japan.
Try! Wales 3-10 Ireland (Jacob Stockdale)
17min: Brilliant try for Ireland! Electric pace by Munster man Conway through the middle leaves the Wales defence floundering, and a good pass to Stockdale, who is in acres of space, allows him to cross in the corner for a try. Carty adds the extras. That was class from Conway, an outstanding piece of skill. Concerning for Gatland to see the hosts torn open by a solo run through the middle.
Wales 3-3 Ireland, Jarrod Evans penalty
16 min: Peter O’Mahony is pinged by referee Poite for not rolling away and Evans knocks a simple penalty over for Wales. It’s all square and Jarrod Evans has started impressively for the home side.
14min: Jarrod Evans puts an excellent kick over Stockdale’s head, out wide. It is superbly weighted for his right-winger but in the end it comes to nothing as the visitors scramble their defence.
13 min: Considering the amount of changes made by both sides, it is hardly surprising that neither Wales nor Ireland have begun this match especially fluently. It’s a bit nervy.
Wales 0-3 Ireland, Carty penalty
8 min: Ireland won a penalty at that aforementioned scrum. They attack up the middle and good hands free Jacob Stockdale, before they win a penalty from Wales captain Navidi for not rolling away. Carty puts a fine kick over and Ireland are up and running.
5 min: An attacking scrum for Wales is reset, and they make ground with a big shove at the second time of asking. Good defensive shape under pressure by Ireland, though, now brings their own put-in at a scrum.
2min: “Pressure, pressure, pressure,” shouts a Wales defender after Ireland secure possession from the kick-off. But after a good kick for touch by Ireland, Wales lose a line-out just inside their own half. Jarrod Evans, making his first start for the hosts, chases a good Will Addison kick to the corner, and tidies it up impressively.
We are under way at the Principality Stadium, as referee French Romain Poite blows his whistle to begin proceedings.
Time for the anthems – and doubtless, that moment of personal reflection that Gatland spoke about before the match. He doesn’t need a successful Rugby World Cup to secure his legacy or his reputation – but it would certainly be a nice way to go out.
Co-commentator Jamie Heaslip: “For Ireland, this is a game they need to win more than Wales. They are at an all-time low in terms of confidence.” It might be a warm-up, but this is a huge day for both teams.
We are 10 minutes away from kick-off at the Principality Stadium. Sam Warburton, on pundit duty, believes Ireland will be ‘100% better” than last week against England. It’s interesting to hear Schmidt say he deliberately made his players fatigued against England. It seems a risky game to play in terms of keeping morale up ahead of the World Cup. But if it helps them perform in Japan, he is a genius …
How have Ireland spent the past week of training, Channel 4 ask Ireland coach Joe Schmidt: “I think we’ve just freshened guys up,” he replies. “We have some games with a five-six day turnaround … guys were a little bit fatigued going into the game [against England] last week because that will be the reality at the World Cup … some of these players don’t get to go [to Japan] unless there is a big performance today. Hopefully you’ll see a much better performance on the back of being fresher and a lot more focused.”
Thanks to Ireland fan John McEnerney for getting in touch on Twitter:
“Happy to see James Ryan back in the XV,” John says. “We need a super mega massive performance today regardless of the opposition No1 ranking…its not their best XV. Peter O’M will rally his troops from the back of the scrum no better buachaill to do it.”
‘buachaill’ means boy, by the way.
Gatland: “The players know how important today is. They know a really good performance might get them on the plane to Japan.” Enough said.
Prop Rhys Carre and wing Owen Lane both make their international debuts for Wales today in a side captained by Josh Navidi. Fly-half Jarrod Evans makes his first start.
Lots of relatively unfamiliar faces for Ireland, too: It will be interesting to see how English-born Will Addison does at full-back, while Jack Carty of Connacht starts at No 10 alongside his provincial half-back colleague Kieran Marmion at scrum-half.
“Irish eyes aren’t smiling,” says Channel 4’s Lee McKenzie in her intro, referring to Ireland’s recent poor form. At least we’ve got it out of the way early.
Gatland is understandably keen to focus on performance and his World Cup squad selection, but there is no doubt that Wales fans want to take the chance to thank Gatland today:
In a pre-match press conference, Gatland played down the significance of today being his final match as coach in Cardiff.
“It will be quite emotional,” he said. “I’ve had an unbelievable time here in Wales, and the people I think have made my time here incredibly special.
“It’s not about me, there are 31 players who will be selected on Sunday…There is no way I want to overshadow what is probably more important for those individuals than me having the last game in the stadium. I will have a personal reflection, and reflect on how memorable that’s been, without making a big fuss about it.”
Wales: Amos; Lane, Scott Williams, Watkin, Steff Evans; Jarrod Evans, Aled Davies; Carre, Elias, Lee, Beard, Bradley Davies, Shingler, James Davies, Navidi (capt.).
Replacements: Dee, Evans, Brown, Ball, Wainwright, Tomos Williams, Patchell, Holmes.
Ireland: Addison; Conway, Farrell, Aki, Stockdale; Carty, Marmion; Kilcoyne, Scannell, John Ryan, Henderson, James Ryan, Beirne, O’Mahony (capt.), Conan.
Replacements: Best, Porter, Furlong, Toner, Murphy, McGrath, Ringrose, Kearney.
Good afternoon and welcome. The 2019 Rugby World Cup is just around the corner and this afternoon’s match at the Principality Stadium, the penultimate warm-up for both sides, will see a number of fringe players make their case for a seat on the plane to Japan.
This is Warren Gatland’s final match in Cardiff, as the curtain falls on his 11 years as Wales coach. His team have topped the world rankings for the past two weeks, which seems a fitting way to mark the phenomenal job Gatland has done.
But Gatland’s work ethic, and the proximity of the World Cup, will ensure there is no risk of his players regarding this as some kind of coronation. Gatland has made 14 changes to the team that beat England here last time out, so it’s an unfamiliar line-up. After today there is a final warm-up against Ireland in Dublin next week before their tournament opener against Georgia in just over three weeks’ time.
While Wales are building momentum and shrugging off the rustiness that characterised their defeat by England three weeks ago, Ireland seem to be in a pickle. Robbed of key players by injury, they were blown away by England at Twickenham last week. Certainly they are no longer regarded as the northern Hemisphere’s best hope of lifting the World Cup. Joe Schmidt has made 11 changes to his starting XV for today, although that’s more to have a look at a few contenders, rather than punishing the players beaten by England.
It feels like a long time since Ireland’s rousing victory over the All Blacks in Dublin last November, but it’s not too late for the meticulous Schmidt and his squad to pull things together in time for the Japan showpiece. Schmidt insists his team ‘are in a better place to play rugby’ than last week, which is useful. But another heavy defeat, albeit for an unfamiliar-looking team, would be hard to stomach.
Kick-off: 2.30pm BST