RugbyTalking Point

Wales v Ireland: Ill-discipline takes shine off dominant Irish display

Ireland mostly impressed while getting their Six Nations off to a winning start, but the loss of discipline in the second half must be addressed

The penalty count will be the main bugbear following Ireland’s 34-10 victory over Wales at the Principality stadium. The visitors conceded 13 in total and that’s usually enough to get a coach’s teeth gnashing, especially giving away a double-figure tally in the second half.

In the first 40 minutes the visitors were penalised on just a couple of occasions but the sinned against turned sinners in the eyes of the referee Karl Dickson after the interval. Ireland captain Johnny Sexton couldn’t help but smile when he reflected on one of the pillars on which the team wanted to build their post-interval display.

He smiled as he said: “All we spoke about at half-time was discipline, and then we go and give away four or five on the bounce. We had no need [to do that]. They were clear penalties. It is not good enough.”

That slovenliness invited Wales into the contest and although they could only capitalise with one try, those transgressions, against a better team, could have been a great deal more costly or debilitating from an Irish perspective.


While there was an element of carelessness to the ill-discipline, it was demonstrably linked to handing back possession to the hosts with a poorly judged and executed kicking game. Some of Ireland’s kicking in the third quarter was panicked and poorly directed.

The discipline shift was a far cry from the opening half when Wales, under ferocious pressure, conceded seven of the first eight penalties and trailed 9-2 in that respect at halftime. Ireland conceded four in the first nine minutes after the resumption, loose head prop Andrew Porter pinged three times for a variety of offences.

Replacement Iain Henderson escaped a yellow card but was penalised for making contact with Liam Williams as the Welsh fullback chased his own kick. There are times when giving away a penalty can be judicious, a reasonable trade against conceding a try but from an Irish perspective, many of their second-half indiscretions could have been avoided.

Wales conceded 14 but it was the seven that they coughed up that ultimately gave their opponents the possession and the field position to launch their attacking patterns, which were mostly focused, patient and relentless.

Ireland damaged their hosts because they scored points on five of the first six occasions that they made it into the Welsh 22, granted access by the home side’s concession of penalties. In the second half when the roles were reversed, Irish players came up with big plays to deny Wales, with James Ryan’s lineout turnover a class case in point.

That resilience and scrambling are not something that Ireland can look to rely on again, especially against a team of France’s calibre. Andy Farrell will be delighted with the win, the character displayed, many aspects of the performance in the first half but the ill-discipline after the interval, well that will make for an uncomfortable review.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer