Rob Howley hails 'outstanding' Wales as Ireland's title hopes take a hit

Wales beat Ireland 22-9 in Cardiff to return to winning ways and deal their opponents a major blow in the running for the Six Nations title.

A win against Wales would have set up a potential title decider against England in Dublin in the final match of the competition but there was no flow, and an element of predictability, to Ireland's attacking game in the face of an excellent Wales defense.

Previous clashes between Ireland and Wales have taught us that they're nothing if not absolutely savage affairs and tonight's Six Nations encounter at the Millennium Stadium is no different.

Englishman Barnes had been a major factor in Ireland's defeat on their last visit to Wales two years ago when he repeatedly penalised them at the breakdown for tacklers not rolling away.

It was a disappointing display by Ireland with the line-out malfunctioning a few times.

A conversion followed and then another try from Wales's Dane Blacker to give the hosts a 10-point lead.

Rob Howley's men may have inadvertently nearly handed England the trophy but can be happy with their response after succumbing to the powers of Scotland in their previous Six Nations clash.

"Credit to the boys we played for the full 80 minutes and put in a real shift to get that win against a quality Ireland side".

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in the Scotland game, and I didn't get going at all".

Time and again the red defensive line held firm although Ireland thought they had a try when Rory Best landed on the try line with 11 minutes left.

Howley said his side could have tried to hide after the last two defeats but instead they stood up to be counted.

Here, Press Association Sport examines five things we learned from the penultimate round of the Championship.

"We have felt a lot of hurt, but they deserve a lot of credit for what has happened in the last couple of weeks because the results have not gone our way".

Irish out-half Bill Johnston landed a pair of penalties towards the end of the first period to cut the gap to only four points, before Williams went over for Wales' third try to make it 24-13 at the break.

"From our point of view, we dug deep when we needed to without the ball and we were clinical when we needed to be without the ball", Howley added.

  • Kyle Peterson