Six Nations 2021: Wales 21-16 Ireland

By Sports Desk February 07, 2021

Wales took advantage of Peter O'Mahony's early dismissal and survived a fightback from 14-man Ireland to start their Six Nations campaign with a 21-16 win in Cardiff.

O'Mahony was sent off in the opening 15 minutes for contact to the head but Andy Farrell's men overcame their disadvantage in personnel to lead 13-6 at the interval.

But tries from George North and Louis Rees-Zammit turned the contest back in Wales' favour, with Ireland unable to produce another riposte.

The visitors were also dealt a late blow as Johnny Sexton went off with a head injury, giving Farrell plenty to worry about ahead of next week's clash with France.

Ireland were pinned for side entry at the ruck in the opening five minutes, giving Leigh Halfpenny the chance to boot Wales into a three-point lead.

O'Mahony was guilty of a much more serious infraction in the 14th minute, the flanker seeing red for leading with the elbow to the head of Tomas Francis as he attempted a clearout.

Wales, who earlier lost Dan Lydiate to a leg injury, doubled their advantage four minutes later through Halfpenny's trusty right peg.

However, Ireland enjoyed the majority of possession and territory thereafter in the first half and were rewarded for an extremely spirited fightback.

A pair of Sexton penalties drew Ireland level and a break from Robbie Henshaw then enabled Tadhg Beirne to dive over and give them a seven-point lead to defend.

Wales saw scrum-half Tomos Williams suffer a hamstring injury on the stroke of half-time but his absence did not prevent the hosts from getting back into the contest.

North capitalised after a series of Ireland handling errors to surge through a gap on the right and touch down, but Halfpenny misjudged the conversion attempt.

But that instance of profligacy from the tee did not prove costly as Rees-Zammit produced a stunning finish in the right-hand corner to put Wales back in front.

Halfpenny atoned for his earlier miss with a superb kick from the sideline to add the extras before knocking over a more routine kick as a penalty made it 21-13.

Billy Burns trimmed the deficit back to five points shortly after Sexton's exit but he failed to find touch with a penalty as he attempted to push Ireland to the five-metre line in stoppage time as Wales survived a dramatic final push from the visitors.

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