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Strong Ireland beat improved Wales

By Dylan Morris, North Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com

Josh Ralph Wales v Ireland RLWC
Josh Ralph made his Wales debut in the team's loss to Ireland. Photo: NRL Photos

Ireland defeated Wales 34-6 at Perth Rectangular Stadium in the 30-degree heat of Western Australia to draw the World Cup Pool C games to a close on Sunday.

Wales, while gutsy throughout, were unable to match it with the more professional Ireland, who although displaying constant handling errors, were a class above the Welsh. 

With the opening use of the football, Ireland wasted no time taking the advantage, with a break down the sideline turning into a repeat set off a good kick and strong defence.

They were unable to open the scoring early as Joe Keyes knocked on as he attacked the line. 

Wales did little to help their dwindling possession, after Philip Joseph gave away a penalty for doing too much work in the ruck.

An error from Ireland let them off the hook, and Ireland gave away a ruck penalty of their own which worked Wales into attacking territory, only for an opportunity to go begging with an open Ireland tryline going unpunished due to a failed offload. 

Mistakes began to build up for Ireland, which coupled with aggressive Welsh defence kept Ireland's tally at six.

It would almost cost the Irish their lead, when a knock-on on their own 10m-line gifted Wales an attacking opportunity, with points only denied by Regan Grace's foot finding the line just before he dived for the corner. 

The Ireland attack began to stutter after five-eighth Joe Keyes left the field with a medial ligament strain, causing a re-shuffle.

However, it didn't hinder the Irish as much as constant defence in their own end hindered the Welsh.

Eventually, Wales cracked and it was interchange forward Oli Roberts who delivered the blow, bouncing off Welsh defence and stretching out to plant the ball down. 

The score line started to deteriorate for Wales as they gave a fifth-tackle penalty, which Ireland followed up with a hard run via Joe Philbin who crashed over and scored in much the same fashion as Roberts.  

Ireland made it four tries before halftime when they seized upon a Wales error as they tried to score, going the length of the field for halfback Liam Finn to take the line on himself and twist through to score. Finn's first missed conversion of the afternoon left the half-time score at 22-0. 

Wales didn’t get the ideal start to the second half, with strong defence undone by a cheap penalty on the fifth tackle, gifting Ireland an attacking opportunity less than five minutes into the second stanza.

Ireland outdid the Welsh, dropping the ball twice in a set, with the second being ruled a knock-on, letting the pressure of Wales.  

It would ultimately prove costly, as Wales' attack finally clicked, they took on the line and a perfect pass to Ben Morris running a wide line found space.

A last-ditch ankle tap couldn't stop Morris from reaching the line and opening the scoring for Wales almost 60 minutes into the game and reducing the difference to 16 points. 

Wales didn’t get the restart they wanted, knocking on 30m out from their own line. Ireland almost made them pay for it, but Roberts' second try was denied by the video referee, who ruled the ball had been planted short of the line and then lost.

Roberts did eventually make it two, with a hard run at the Wales line breaking defence already stressed from sustained pressure.

They would follow it up after some stop-start football, using an overlap to commit Welsh defenders before feeding it through the hands to winger Liam Kay who dived over to score on the edge. 

Ireland 34 (Oliver Roberts 2, Api Pewhairangi, Joe Philbin, Liam Finn, Liam Kay tries; Liam Finn 5 goals) def. Wales 6 (Ben Morris try; Courtney Davies goal) at Perth Rectangular Stadium
Halftime: 22-0

*This first appeared on NRL.com