Wales end Ireland's Six Nations hopes

Beth Cruz
March 13, 2017

George North silenced his critics with a brace of tries that saw Wales run out 22-9 winners over Ireland in Cardiff on Friday to end the visitors' hopes of a tilt at the Six Nations title.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had predicted before the match that players can bounce back from a poor display with a much-improved one, and so it proved to be for North, heavily criticised in Wales' capitulation to Scotland.

Regardless of England's result against Scotland, they will be playing for the championship on the last day and if they do manage to beat the Scots, then they will have the chance to create history by winning 19 consecutive Test matches, surpassing the All Blacks record of 18.

But Howley kept faith with the side which had lost 29-13 at Murrayfield, with skipper Alun Wyn Jones insisting the only pressure on the team had come from within.

I don't think anyone can say that we didn't play with width.

"We played quite smart but we're a bit disappointed with the contact area".

The first was particularly memorable as he ended a fluent Welsh move by brushing past Ireland pair Keith Earls and Simon Zebo to power over.

"We all have bad games and George is the first one to put his hand up after the Scotland game".

"We know we need to be more clinical and we need to execute better under pressure and we have been working hard on that during the last few weeks".

However, they bounced back to take the lead just moments later thanks to some magic from Leinster's Jordan Larmour and Munster's Calvin Nash.

"We showed against Ireland what it meant to all of us to go out and really want to put it right".

"The challenge for us is to make sure we deliver a performance this week".

North's try double was the sixth time he has achieved that feat in his 68-cap Test career as Wales claimed a biggest victory over Ireland since 1983, while it also made a major statement to British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland ahead of New Zealand tour selection next month. It was a case of drawing a line underneath it (Scotland) and moving on as quickly as we could, focusing 100 per cent on the Ireland game.

"England will be coming over to celebrate their title but our aim is to spoil the party and show just what we can do".

Ireland ploughed through phase after phase in a bid to unlock Wales, but were denied their usual attacking rhythm and wound up a blunt force on the front foot.

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