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2004 Wales A 56 Ireland A 12

15th May 2004, 17:20

2004 Wales A 56 Ireland A 12

Wales easily overcame an under-strength but spirited Ireland side

Wales easily overcame an under-strength but spirited Ireland side in the opening match of the 2004 Parkhouse Recruitment Home Nations Championship at Cardiff Athletics Stadium on Saturday.

Ireland, missing many players due to their involvement in the Victory Cup in Russia, had the best of the first 10 minutes but didn't make their sets of six count, being stopped by a strong Welsh defence.

Wales finally burst onto the attack in the 10th minute scoring three quick tries, all in the corner. Torfaen's Leigh Taylor was held up a metre from the line. From the resulting play-the-ball, Aberavon's Richard Johnston went over for the first try.

On receiving the ball from kick-off Wales immediately scored a second when following a Tom Brown penalty and a quick play-the-ball, Cardiff's Joel Keene touched down. From kick-off Wales carried on attacking and from an excellent passing move, James Strover grounded in the 17th minute to make the score 12-0.

Ireland fought back in the 26th minute. Wales gave away a penalty deep in their half leading to a mazy run from Paul O'Connor running past four Welsh defenders to put the ball under the sticks for the try of the match. Neil Burke kicked the first successful conversion of the game to make the score 12-6.

Wales fought back and looked to have scored almost immediately but Cardiff's Rhodri Thomas was adjudged to have been held up after crossing the line.

The final 15 minutes of the first half were scoreless. Darren Ryan came closest but was topped in his tracks by a hard-working Irish defence making the score 12-6 to Wales.

Wales made their class show in the second half straight from kick-off. After Dean Scully grounded the ball in the corner after only the fourth tackle of the half, there was no holding back the men in red. Scully fought his way over the line eight minutes later while his Aberavon team-mate Darren Ryan followed suit in the 54th minute. All tries were successfully converted by the skilful Scully who five minutes later also kicked a penalty to make the score 32-6.

Wales scored again immediately after the kick-off, Richard Johnston running through the tame Irish defence for his second try, placing the ball directly under the posts. Scully easily converted.

Ireland rescued a little bit a pride with 10 minutes to go deservedly scoring after a few good attacking moves. Jimmy Giblin finished off a fine set of passes with Burke successfully converting bringing the score back to 38-12.

However, Wales were determined to have the final say as they scored three tries in the last 10 minutes. First James Strover made a 20-metre run to touchdown in the corner, then man-of-the-match Scully completed his hat-trick with a darting run placing the ball under the sticks and once again converting.

Finally, Ryan fought his way through the Irish defence to complete a hat-trick of his own to make the final score 56-12 in favour of the Welshman to start a successful defence of their Home Nations title.

MATCHFACTS:
Wales: 1 Simon Bevan, 2 James Strover, 3 Dean Scully, 4 Rhodri Thomas, 5 Richard Johnston, 6 Richard Jenkins, 7 Peter Moore, 8 Leigh Taylor, 9 Joel Keen, 10 Mark Dando, 11 Tom Brown, 12 Damien Hudd, 13 Neil Davies (capt). SUBS (all used): 14 Darren Ryan, 15 Jason Hill, 16 Jason Massey, 17 Matt Drew.
Tries: Johnston (10), (55), Keene (13), Strover (17), (72), Scully (41), (49), (76), Ryan (54), (78)
Goals: Scully 8/11

Ireland: 1 Stuart O'Callaghan, 2 Matt O'Shea, 3 Paul Walsh, 4 Karl Docherty, 5 John Luke Flannagan, 6 Paul Flannery, 7 Paul O'Connor, 8 Paul Malhoney, 9 Jimmy Giblin, 10 Kyle Graydon, 11 Darren Macken, 12 Paul Leane, 13 Neil Burke. SUBS (all used): 14 Dave Maskell, 15 Phil Arkell, 16 Paul Harris, 17 Barry Kingsley.
Tries: O'Connor (26), Giblin (70)
Goals: Burke 2/2

SCORING SEQUENCE: 4-0, 8-0, 12-0, 12-6, 18-6, 24-6, 30-6, 32-6, 38-6, 38-12, 44-12, 50-12, 56-12.

Parkhouse Recruitment Men of the Match:
Wales: Dean Scully
Ireland: Jimmy Giblin
Half-time: 12-6
Referee: Steve Gilgallon

GAMESTAR: The Welsh played their hearts out for 80 minutes, but it was Dean Scully who provided the inspiration, the tries and the goals for a perfect performance.
GAMEBREAKER: Darren Ryan's try in the 54th minute. A culmination of three quick tries for the Welsh making sure that there was no way back into the game for Ireland.

Article by Ian Golden
16 May 2004