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Ireland 27-12 Wales

Keith Earls

Highlights - Ireland 27-12 Wales

Ireland (16) 27
Tries: Earls (2), O'Leary Pens: Sexton (3) Drop: Sexton
Wales (6) 12
Pen: Jones (2)

Two tries by Keith Earls and one from Tomas O'Leary helped Ireland deservedly beat Wales in the RBS Six Nations and remain on course for the Triple Crown.

The Irish took advantage of Lee Byrne's sin-binning with two tries which established a 16-6 half-time lead.

Earls scored in the 26th minute from centurion Brian O'Driscoll's off-load and O'Leary touched down soon after.

And Earls got over again midway through the second half to finish Wales, whose 12 points were Stephen Jones penalties.

It was a comprehensive win for Ireland, whose smothering defence stopped Wales crossing their line and the result keeps Declan Kidney's team in with a shout of topping the table, though they are relying on France to slip up.

Keith Earls heads for the try line for Ireland against Wales

Earls' second try seals Ireland win

For Wales, though, it was a third defeat in four matches and but for the poor kicking form of Leinster fly-half Jonathan Sexton they could have lost by an even greater margin.

The man who displaced Ronan O'Gara as Ireland's number 10, missed three of his five first-half attempts, including a straightforward conversion which struck an upright.

But Sexton did slot over two penalties to supplement the tries, which had Kidney's men in command in the first half.

Ireland suffered an early setback when inside centre Gordon D'Arcy had to go off with a leg injury with Rob Kearney coming off the bench.

Kidney sets sights on Triple Crown

Wales had full-back Byrne sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball and that proved crucial as Ireland took telling advantage.

The first try came on 23 minutes from a quickly-taken penalty from which O'Leary fed O'Driscoll, who set up Earls and the Munster back rode a tackle from Stephen Jones to roll over.

Sexton fluffed the conversion attempt but Ireland enjoyed a 11-3 lead.

With Wales still a man down, the Irish ran in their second try on the half-hour mark.

From a well-controlled line-out, Paul O'Connell laid off to his Munster colleague O'Leary, the scrum-half racing over despite a last-ditch tackle from Leigh Halfpenny.

Wales discipline frustrates Gatland

Wales mounted a spell of sustained pressure early in the second half but Ireland emerged to get the first points with a Sexton penalty, Jones quickly replying to leave it 19-9.

The threat of a Welsh comeback remained until Earls got his second try in the 60th minute to give Ireland a much welcome bit of daylight.

Clean ball from the line-out saw Ireland work it out to the left with O'Leary passing for Earls who got over for his sixth try in nine Tests.

Sexton was again off the mark with a tough touchline conversion attempt and a fourth penalty from Jones cut the home lead to 24-12.

However, Sexton made some amends for earlier misses by nailing a drop goal late on.

Ireland: Murphy, Bowe, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Earls, Sexton, O'Leary; Healy, R. Best, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Ferris, D. Wallace, Heaslip.
Replacements: Kearney for D'Arcy (23), O'Gara for Earls (77), Reddan for O'Leary (78), Cronin for R. Best (79), Buckley for Hayes (73), Cullen for O'Connell (79), Jennings for Ferris (78).

Wales: Byrne, Halfpenny, Hook, J. Roberts, S. Williams, S. Jones, R. Rees, P. James, M. Rees, A. Jones, B. Davies, Charteris, Thomas, M. Williams, Delve.
Replacements: Bishop for Byrne (63), Peel for R. Rees (61), Gill for P. James (77), Bennett for M. Rees (56), Gough for B. Davies (58), Warburton for M. Williams (66).

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

Att: 81,340

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see also
O'Driscoll praises Irish response
13 Mar 10 |  Irish
Ireland v Scotland match stats
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations as it happened
13 Mar 10 |  Rugby Union
England 16-20 Ireland
27 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 20-26 France
26 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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