Irish douse Dragons’ fire

Keith Earls grabbed a double as Ireland beat Wales 27-12 at Croke Park on Saturday.

The victory keeps the defending champions in contention for the Six Nations title (and the Triple Crown), although they will need a big win against Scotland in their final fixture at home next weekend and hope that France slip up against England in Paris.

For now, though, Ireland will celebrate their victory against a Welsh team that has lost three matches out of four this season.

Ireland led just 6-3 after 25 minutes before Wales fullback Lee Byrne was yellow-carded for holding on.

Two tries then put the hosts firmly in control. First, Brian O’Driscoll sent fellow midfielder Earls away after Ireland had taken a quick penalty tap, and then lock Paul O’Connell broke away from a lineout and offloaded to scrumhalf Tomas O’Leary, who made it 16-6 at the break (flyhalf Jonathan Sexton missed both conversions).

Two penalties from Wales No 10 Stephen Jones and one from Sexton saw Ireland lead 19-12 with 20 minutes to go. Earls then scored his second try after O’Leary had darted away from a lineout, but Sexon’s boot failed him yet again as the conversion went well wide.

However, Sexon made amends when he kicked a drop goal with three minutes to go that put the game out of Wales’ reach.