Schmidt looks to 'fickle friend' to stay onside for Grand Slam bid

James Hume makes a break

O'Mahony was replaced by Jack Conan in the last quarter, having earlier received, treatment but Schmidt insisted there was not "anything too concerning".

Against a side with an excellent defence, the Irish outscored Wales by five tries to three.

Table toppers Ireland will face a Wales side that battled hard against England in their last game, despite losing by a narrow margin. It made the speed of the defensive line in red an irrelevance and Stockdale had a clear run for the line from five metres out to score his seventh try in seven Tests.

Ireland had followed up their opening-day 24-0 defeat by France with a 21-8 victory over Italy, and this performance will provide further cause for optimism for coach Adam Briggs.

Sexton, troubled by a stiff back in the warm-up, endured a rare off-day with the boot, missing four kicks at goal although Schmidt - whose peculiar personal feud with the Irish media endures despite his team's continued success - played down the severity of the injury.

Jacob Stockdale, who had touched down at the start of the game, had the final say with an interception try as Wales looked for a winning score and that summed up just how insane this match was, ebbing and flowing in all directions.

The Irish got the ideal lift before the interval, 14 phases of play rewarded when centre Bundee Aki crashed through and Sexton converted to send the hosts in 15-13 ahead. Multiple phases from Ireland allowed Aki, making his fifth appearance in the green of Ireland, stretch over for a 13-13 score line.

The Irish still have two tough encounters to come in this year's championship.

Dan Leavy's try under the posts in 44 minute came after a break from fullback Rob Kearney, a great step from Keith Earls, and Conor Murray showing his athleticism and agility to ensure he didn't lose possession of the ball.

Cian Healy scored Ireland's next try when squeezing over on the blindside on 53 minutes, with Sexton unfortunately unable to convert this time, his effort going right and wide.

Ireland got a try-scoring bonus point when Stewart crept over for another converted try with 14 minutes left.

Wales- L Halfpenny; L Williams (G North 65), S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans; D Biggar, G Davies; R Evans (W Jones 56-74), K Owens (E Dee 56), S Lee (T Francis 56); C Hill (B Davies 65), AW Jones (capt); A Shingler, J Navidi, R Moriarty (J Tipuric 65). Neither the angle nor the distance mattered to Halfpenny - he slotted another score over, leaving a single penalty (30-27) between the sides in dying minutes of the game.

"We got the bonus point so we'll be happy with that and we'll have a look at the review on our defence".

Joe Schmidt's men will now take on Scotland in Dublin on 10 March, before facing England at Twickenham on St Patrick's Day.



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