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Ireland 19 Wales 23

Ireland 19 Wales 23

Wales powered to a Lansdowne Road victory in the Championship finale, ultimately handing the Old Enemy the Lloyds TSB Six Nations silverware.

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After missing the previous victory over Scotland two weeks previously, Wales’s replacement fly half Neil Jenkins returned from injury and sealed the thrilling victory in the final game of the first tournament to be held in the new millennium.

Ronan O’Gara put the first points on the scoreboard, kicking Ireland into a 6-0 advantage just inside the first ten minutes of play. Though fly half Stephen Jones was unable to emulate O’Gara, missing his first kick between the uprights, Wales soon after took the lead. From a line-out deep in the Irish 22 Nathan Budgett was able to dive over the line for the first try of the match, with Jones easily placing the conversion of the flanker’s try between the posts.

Wales continued to pile the pressure on but the Irish also put superb passages of play together, meaning a stalemate in the scoreline until five minutes before the break. Wales took full advantage of the Irish straying offside as Jones slotted a penalty over for a 10-6 lead at half-time, having squandered the chance of sending Wales into the break with a larger advantage as he missed a shot at goal before the half-time whistle sounded.

However, Jones made up for his miss early in the second half with a well-worked try that resulted from Irish mistakes in defence. A Jones-sized gap in the Irish back line enabled Wales to stretch the lead as the young fly half scored under the uprights. Ireland, though, shortly afterwards reduced the deficit.

O’Gara easily converted a penalty after the restart and the Irish, galvanised after Wales’s second try, soon bagged one of their own through Shane Horgan. Poor handling and decision making was to blame for Ireland not stretching their points haul before Horgan’s try.

The conversion from O’Gara took Ireland to a point behind the Welsh, and although he chipped over a penalty to take Ireland into a two point lead, these were to be the last points scored by the men from the Emerald Isle.

With a quarter of an hour remaining, and on the wrong side of the close scoreline, Wales substitute Neil Jenkins entered the fray. His involvement spurred on the visitors as he secured a penalty from the touchline to regain the narrow two point lead.

His second penalty of the game just two minutes later sealed Ireland’s fate; the team ultimately knocked on a free-kick in injury time, squandering their last chance of a result and sealing Wales’s 23-19 victory, and handing England the tournament trophy to boot.

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