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Saturday, February 20, 1999 Published at 20:55 GMT

Irish hold off Welsh revival

Wales hooker Barrie Williams holds off a tackle from Niall Woods

Wales 23-29 Ireland

Ireland continued their remarkable away record against Wales, with a hard-earned victory in an enthralling contest at Wembley.

BBC Radio 5 Live's David Parry-Jones reports from Wembley
The Welsh, who have not beaten the Irish at home for 16 years, are now in danger of taking the wooden spoon after losing to Scotland in their opening Five Nations fixture.

It was the Irish pack that did the damage, setting up a platform for victory that stayed in tact, despite a rousing second half fightback from Wales.

David Humphreys: "It means as much to us as it does to the fans" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
Ireland looked in complete control at 26-6 with 50 minutes gone, but the lead was gradually chipped away and ultimately they were grateful to hang on.

David Humphreys, whose missed kicks cost Ireland victory against France a fortnight ago, at last rediscovered his range and claimed 19 points, including two drop goals, to seal the win.

And it was the Ulster fly-half who sent his side on the way, making the first try of the match, after the two sides had traded penalties.

Humphreys charged down a kick from his opposite number Neil Jenkins and a reverse pass sent in Kevin Maggs for a simple score from 50 yards out.

Jenkins bagged his second penalty to send the sides in 16-6 at the break after a nervy first half that occasionally spilled over into clashes between the players.

Woods takes centre stage

British Lions hooker Keith Wood, who had a huge game for the Irish, added a second try after the break - in uncharacteristic fashion.

Niall Woods embarked on a left-wing run and the ball was recycled and spun out to the midfield, where Woods, acting as a make-shift centre side-stepped Scott Gibbs and sprinted through two tackles to score under the posts.

[ image: Prop Darren Morris shrugs off a challenge from Andy Ward]
Prop Darren Morris shrugs off a challenge from Andy Ward
Humphreys' metronomic kicking put Ireland in total control and with a 20-point lead the game looked over.

But Wales finally burst out of their slumbers and at last produced some of the form so many pundits had been expecting before the Championships began.

Ireland's defence had no chance as Craig Quinnell charged through from a line-out to touch down for a try that Jenkins converted.

Immense Welsh pressure so nearly resulted in a score for Matthew Robinson. But their second try was not long in coming - and it was worth the wait.

Shane Howarth, who was twice involved in a flowing move, scored in the right-hand corner after a looping Jenkins miss-pass was collected on the touchline by lock Chris Wyatt, who passed inside for his full-back to dive over.

Ireland refused to panic in the face of Wales' storming efforts and Humphreys secured the victory five minutes from time when he landed his second drop goal of the game from just outside the 22.

The win gives Ireland hope of a surprise Triple Crown, with England travelling to Dublin for what proves to be a fascinating match in two weeks time.

Wembley teams:

Wales: Howarth; Robinson, Taylor, Gibbs, D James; N Jenkins, Howley (capt); Morris, B Williams, Young, C Quinnell, Wyatt, Charvis, M Williams, S Quinnell.

Replacements: Morgan, Davies, Llewellyn, Voyle, Lewis, Anthony, G Jenkins.

Ireland: O'Shea; Bishop, Maggs, Bell, Woods; Humphreys, McGuinness; Clohessy, Wood, Wallace, Johns (capt), Davidson, O'Cuinneagain, Ward, Miller.

Replacements: R Henderson, Elwood, Scally, Costello, Galwey, Fitzpatrick, Nesdale.

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