Rugby World Cup 2011
Wales power past Ireland into semis
Ireland fail to live up to expectation succumbing to Wales in the quarter-finals of rugby World Cup.
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2011 09:22
 Jonathan Davies (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring Wales' third try [GALLO/GETTY] 

Wales produced superior pace, power and purpose to defeat Ireland 22-10 in the first rugby World Cup quarter-final at the Wellington Regional Stadium on Saturday.

Ireland, who had headed their pool after defeating twice-champions Australia, failed to take advantage of the
southerly wind in the first half and trailed 10-3 at the interval after a second-minute try to Welsh winger Shane Williams.

Wing Keith Earls replied for Ireland with a try in the corner four minutes into the second half and a match between the two Celtic rivals hung in the balance.

The game turned with a splendid try from Mike Phillips in the 50th minute. With Wales pressing hard on the Ireland line, the strapping scrumhalf raced around on the short side and dived over unopposed in the corner.

Jonathan Davies added a third against a team who had conceded only three in the group stages when he outpaced Gordon D'Arcy and handed off Cian Healey 15 minutes later.

Wales's winning margin would have been even wider had flyhalf Rhys Priestland not hit the uprights twice with penalty attempts.

"It was a massive defensive effort from one to 15," Wales captain Sam Warburton said in a pitch-side interview.

"We started the game perfectly today and it was just what we wanted. It's a lot easier to stay ahead in a game instead of chasing it."

The match began in swirling rain and Jamie Roberts, who had another immense game at centre, set up the Williams try which put Ireland immediately on the back foot when he gathered a towering Priestland punt and surged towards the line. 

Wales spun the ball right, fullback Leigh Halfpenny fed Williams who went over in the corner. Priestland made a difficult touchline conversion look simple to add the two extra points.

Failing to deliver 

Ireland opted to kick three penalties to touch within the Welsh half rather than take shots at goal but came away without any reward.

Flyhalf Ronan O'Gara finally put Ireland on the board after Williams was penalised for not releasing straight in front of the posts but Ireland could not breach their opponents' defence with Wales making 85 tackles in the first 40 minutes.

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, who is unlikely to play in another World Cup, said his team were very disappointed to be going home after winning their group.

"We obviously needed to deliver a performance that was similar to the one against Australia or even Italy but we didn't do that today," he said.

"We obviously needed to deliver a performance that was similar to the one against Australia or even Italy but we didn't do that today"

Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll

"We knocked on way too much ball and when you turn the ball over against good opposition they make you pay. They took their scores very well."

Halfpenny restored the seven-point margin with a splendid penalty kick against the wind from just inside the Irish half and Wales would have been much the happier side at the break.

Ireland hit back immediately in the second half after Halfpenny was caught in possession fielding an O'Driscoll grubber kick.

Ireland recycled the ball and, although scrumhalf Connor Murray's pass ran along the ground, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe combined to recover the ball and put Earls over in the left corner.

A splendid conversion from O'Gara levelled the scores before Phillips and Davies put the game beyond Ireland's reach.

Ireland rang the changes with Eoin Reddan and Jonathan Sexton coming on in place of Murray and O'Gara but they could not deny Wales a place in next week's semi-finals.

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