Saturday 24 August 2019

Departing Ireland end impressive World Cup campaign with victory over Wales

Ireland captain Liam Finn was among the points for his side in their final World Cup match
Ireland captain Liam Finn was among the points for his side in their final World Cup match

Ireland put the finishing touches to an impressive World Cup with a 34-6 win over Wales in stifling heat at the Rectangular Stadium.

Second-row forward Oliver Roberts scored two of his side's six tries as the Irish comfortably secur ed their second victory from their three group games but still head home before the knockout stages.

The result leaves Wales still looking for their first World Cup win since 2000 but, after conceding 122 points in their first two games, at least they were competitive for much of the game, which was played as a curtain-raiser to England's clash with France.

Queensland-born half-back Josh Ralph made a lively contribution on his Wales debut and veteran forward Phil Joseph hung up his boots at the end of the game knowing he had given his all in the final match of his career.

However, the Welsh were on a hiding to nothing from the start of the tournament, with just three Super League players in their ranks, compared to 11 for the Irish, eight of them forwards which was a sure sign of the gulf in power.

It looked straight forward for the Irish once outstanding hooker Michael McIlorum found space to get centre Api Pewhairangi over for the first try after just seven minutes.

But they struggled in the sweltering conditions and were forced into a re-shuffle when stand-off Joe Keyes went off with a knee injury midway through the first half.

Wales might have been level when smart work from Ralph gave St Helens winger Regan Grace a sight of the tryline but McIlorum came hurtling across to throw him into touch.

When centre Ed Chamberlain dropped the ball with a clear overlap, Ireland looked to be in for a long afternoon but they established a stranglehold on the game with three tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half.

Roberts and fellow substitute Joe Philbin proved unstoppable with surges from close range and Finn also made light of some soft Welsh defence to burrow his way over, this time after a break from inside his own half by full-back Scott Grix.

Finn converted three of the tries and hit the woodwork with his other attempt as Ireland led 22-0 at the break but Wales played with plenty of spirit and were rewarded when centre Ben Morris went over for a 58th-minute try, which was converted by Courtney Davies.

It was never enough to affect the outcome, however, and the Wolfhounds added two further tries in the final quarter.

Roberts went over from dummy half for his second, shortly after being denied by the video referee, and winger Liam Kay finished off a rare flowing move for Ireland's sixth try, with Finn kicking his fifth goal.

PA Media

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