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Ireland In Front At Half Time
3 March 2008, 2:34 pm
By Pat Geraghty
Two Ronan O'Gara penalties has Ireland leading Wales 6-3 at half time in Croke Park

From O'Gara's kick off Ireland exerted early pressure that ended with an O'Gara penalty after five minutes. Immediate pressure in response from the Welsh saw Robert Kearney do well to double back to tidy up a Mark Jones chip-ahead and Stephen Jones should have levelled when awarded a penalty in front of the posts but the normally reliable Jones drove his effort wide.

In the 18th minute O'Gara extended the Irish lead with a penalty from the 22 under the Cusack Stand and two minutes later a sublime touchfind from the Munster man hit the goal-line flag to put the pressure back on Wales. The Welsh jumper rose early O'Connell picked off the throw and although Wales managed to clear their lines the opening try almost came Ireland's way when Shane Horgan was denied by the TMO after a great solo run.

Wales lifted the siege and Jones found touch ten metres from the Irish line. Penalised at the throw, Ireland conceded the score and Jones was on the mark from the 22. He tried a longer effort in the 29th minute - a strange decision given the circumstances - but was well wide.

Wales then started to shift the ball wide, right and left to good effect and it needed a great Kearney tackle to prevent Lee Byrne scoring the game's opening try. Kearney was again involved second later to stop Ryan Jones in his tracks and somehow the Welsh again managed to blow a try scoring opportunity when they went wide right with men over.

The half ended with Ireland forced to defend desperately and a penalty awarded to Wales under the Irish posts was reversed when Mike Phillips was yellow carded for a needless and dangerous knee into the back of a prone Marcus Horan.

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