9th August 2009, 17:33
2009 Ireland Wolfhounds 28 Wales Dragonhearts 26
Wales "A" won their seventh Rugby League Home Nations title in the space of eight years despite losing 28-26 to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.
The Welsh won this title from 2002-05, missed out to England in 2006, regained the title in 2007 and have now secured the trophy for the third year in a row.
The Dragonhearts' two-point defeat means that they top the four team group on points difference from Ireland with Wales' 42-4 win over England earlier this season being the major factor.
Scotland Bravehearts beat England Lionhearts 40-24 to lift them into third place in the final table. England take the wooden spoon.
Wales got off to a poor start with centre and man of the match John Colman scoring early on and Shane Malhoney converted to make it 6-0, but soon after that a loose pass was picked up by Jamie Murphy and the stand-off ran the length of the pitch handing off two would-be tacklers to score and he converted his own try to make it 6 all.
Moments later Murphy added a penalty goal to put Wales two points up but a second try for Colman midway through the second half and second conversion gave the Wolfhounds a 12-8 lead.
Newport Titans fullback Scott Bessant then made two great tackles to save certain tries while his team mates Dafydd Hellard and Karl Davies both came close to scoring.
But the final say of the first half went to the men in green when stand-off Declan Foy slid over under the posts and Mulhoney again added the extras to give Ireland an 18-8 half time lead.
A shocking decision from the referee gifted the Irish a fourth try early in the second half, Tongan born winger Lemaki Vai'poulo dropped a pass from Foy, the Dragonhearts stopped, waiting for the knock-on to be given but Vai'poulo pounced on the ball and the try stood to make the score 22-8.
Wales finally got out of second gear and scored two quick tries from wings Dafydd Hellard and Dave Norman, the second after a superb break from Norman's fellow Dinefwr Shark player Alan Pope. Paul Emanuelli added both kicks to bring Wales within two.
But Ireland hit straight back with Foy grabbing a second and Mulhoney kicked his fourth goal to put his team eight points clear.
With ten minutes to go, Valley Cougars powerhouse Liam Williams scored after good work from Christiaan Roets and Craig Fox and Murphy kicked the extra two to make the score 28-26.
The Dragonhearts attacked for the final ten and twice looked to have scored but the referee disallowed tries from Scott Bessant and Fox, and it wasn't to be the Dragonhearts day as Alan Pope was tackled inches short in the final play and the Irish Wolfhounds celebrated victory in a great game of Rugby League.
After the game Dragonhearts coach Mike Healey said: "We are gutted to have lost but I can't fault the commitment from what is a great bunch of players. We started slow and Ireland took advantage. We felt two of three bad decisions went against us in the second half but we are still Home Nations Champions and have a lot to be proud of."
Wales can also be proud with the amount of youngsters who have played for the Dragonhearts this season with teenagers Stevie Williams, Jamie Murphy and 17 year old Nathan Hawkins all excelling.
IRISH WOLFHOUNDS SCORERS:
John Colman (2)
Declan Foy (2)
Shan Malhoney (4)
WALES DRAGONHEARTS SCORERS:
Jamie Murphy (3)
Paul Emanuelli (2)
article by Simon Green
9 August 2009