Wales vs Ireland Match Preview
Wales host Ireland in 6 Nations opener
Dan Briggar will be the man to lead Wales
Wales will be looking to end their disastrous run when they host Ireland in Cardiff on Saturday.
The Welsh have lost their last 7 games in a row and must start off positively if they are to retain their 6 Nations title. The Welsh still have gaps in their side, especially at lock, thanks to a series of longterm injuries and this may still prove to be a hurdle they are unable to overcome.
As usual the backline looks very strong with plenty of big names hovering, but their chances to impress rely on the Welsh pack turning in a strong performance.
On the other side of the fence Brian O'Driscoll has returned to wear green again with Johnny Sexton back in 10 despite announcing he will move to France at the end of the season.
But up front is where Ireland continues to hold their advantage with plenty of power from 1-8.
I expect both sides to play conservatively with the Irish pack pouncing on anything the Welsh let loose. This should translate to a large haul for Mr Sexton's boot and ultimately an Irish victory.
Ireland by 9.
15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Andrew Coombs, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 Olly Kohn, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Loyd Williams, 22 James Hook, 23 Scott Williams.
15 Rob Kearney, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Chris Henry, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Keith Earls.
Wales vs Ireland Match Report
Ireland take the spoils in Cardiff
Simon Zebo dots down for Ireland
Ireland have consigned Wales to their 8th successive defeat after a dominant first half in Cardiff.
Ireland built an unassailable 30-3 lead early on before Wales fought back to restore some pride. But it was to no avail as Wales suffered a 30-22 loss at the hands of the improving Irish.
Livewire Simon Zebo profited from some O'Driscoll magic for the first points of the afternoon and an early Irish lead. Zebo featured again in Irelands next try, with Cian Healy the man to get the ball over the chalk. Johnny Sexton kept the scoreboard ticking along and Ireland had a 23-3 first half lead.
O'Driscoll claimed Irelands third try after the break and the match looked all but over until Wales finally came to the party. Ireland were camped in their own half for the rest of the match but the gap was enough as the men in green left Cardiff with victory.
Tries: Cuthbert, Halfpenny, Mitchell
Con: Halfpenny 2
Tries: Zebo, Healy, O'Driscoll
Cons: Sexton 3
Pens: Sexton 3
Yellow Card: Best, Murray