Ireland ‘brimming’ but Wales ready to ‘front up’ – preview, team news and stats

Robbie Henshaw played the second half of Ireland’s win against Scotland after replacing Garry Ringrose
Guinness Six Nations: Ireland v Wales
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 8 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio Ulster and online; BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru, text commentary on BBC Sport website and app.

Ireland will hope their impressive home form will help them end Wales’ unbeaten run in the Six Nations when they come face to face in Dublin on Saturday.

Ireland, who beat Scotland 19-12 last weekend, have won 16 of their last 17 Tests at the Aviva Stadium.

Wales are seeking a ninth Six Nations victory in a row to equal their longest winning run in the Championship.

They ran in five tries in their triumph over Italy last week but clearly face a far sterner examination this time out.

Ireland’s Garry Ringrose and Caelan Doris are injured, so centre Robbie Henshaw and flanker Peter O’Mahony are promoted to the starting line-up.

O’Mahony will begin as blind-side flanker, with CJ Stander switching to number eight.

Uncapped back row Max Deegan and fit-again utility back Keith Earls are amongst the replacements.

Centre Nick Tompkins starts his first Wales game in the only change to the side that began against Italy.

George North started against the Azzurri at outside centre but reverts to a more familiar position on the wing, meaning Johnny McNicholl drops to the bench.

Scrum-half Gareth Davies, prop Rhys Carre, fly-half Owen Williams and lock Adam Beard are named as replacements, coming in for Rhys Webb, Jarrod Evans, Rob Evans and Cory Hill, who misses out through a leg injury.

View from both camps

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell on whether his team’s confidence could suffer following a narrow win against Scotland: “I don’t think their egos are bruised. They can’t wait to get back on the field.

“We’re in a good place, we’re brimming, ready for what we know is going to be a really, really tough game.

“We know that Wales are Grand Slam champions and semi-finalists at the World Cup and rightly so.

“They’re being talked up as a great team. We know what’s coming this week, we get excited by that as well.”

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac: “Momentum is important in the Championship. It was nice to get a good winning start under our belts, and hopefully we can build on that through the tournament.

“Ireland are a very physical team and if they get on the front foot they can be dangerous.

“We have to match that. It’s not an easy place to go. It will be a big challenge. We have to front up physically.”

Line-ups

Ireland: 15-Jordan Larmour, 14-Andrew Conway, 13-Robbie Henshaw, 12-Bundee Aki, 11-Jacob Stockdale, 10-Johnny Sexton (captain), 9-Conor Murray; 1-Cian Healy, 2-Rob Herring, 3-Tadhg Furlong, 4-Iain Henderson, 5-James Ryan, 6-Peter O’Mahony, 7-Josh van der Flier, 8-CJ Stander.

Replacements: 16-Ronan Kelleher, 17-Dave Kilcoyne, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Devin Toner, 20-Max Deegan, 21-John Cooney, 22-Ross Byrne, 23-Keith Earls.

Wales: 15-Leigh Halfpenny; 14-George North, 13-Nick Tompkins, 12-Hadleigh Parkes, 11-Josh Adams; 10-Dan Biggar, 9-Tomos Williams; 1-Wyn Jones, 2-Ken Owens, 3-Dillon Lewis, 4-Jake Ball, 5-Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 6-Aaron Wainwright, 7-Justin Tipuric, 8-Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 16-Ryan Elias, 17-Rhys Carre, 18-Leon Brown, 19-Adam Beard, 20-Ross Moriarty, 21-Gareth Davies, 22-Owen Williams, 23-Johnny McNicholl.

The exception was last year’s 32-20 defeat by England

Match facts

Head-to-head

  • The Welsh have lost just one of their last five matches against Ireland in the Six Nations (W3, D1).
  • It is eight years since Wales’ last Six Nations win on Irish soil – a 23-21 victory at the Aviva Stadium in 2012.
  • Ireland beat Wales twice in warm-up matches before the 2019 World Cup but lost against them in the Six Nations earlier in the year.
  • Each of Wales’ three victories in Dublin in the Six Nations have been by four points or fewer.
  • This is the 130th meeting between the sides. Wales have won 69 times and Ireland 53.
  • Ireland have won 30 of the 63 matches on Irish soil, with Wales claiming 28 victories and five draws.

Ireland

  • Ireland have won their second Six Nations match in five of the last six campaigns.
  • Andy Farrell’s side won 10 turnovers against Scotland, twice as many as any other side during the opening weekend.
  • They have won 70% of their matches at the Aviva Stadium since it opened in 2010 (W35, D2, L13).
  • England are the only visiting side to win in Dublin in the last seven Six Nations tournaments, doing so in 2013 as well as last year.

Wales

  • Wales have won their last eight matches in the Six Nations, scoring 208 points and conceding 92.
  • It is their longest winning streak in the tournament since a similar sequence from 2007 to 2009 (which ended in a 21-16 defeat to France).
  • A ninth consecutive victory would equal Wales’ Championship record, set in the Five Nations between 1970 and 1973.
  • Last weekend’s win against Italy was the first time Wales have prevented an opponent from scoring in a Six Nations match. They had conceded in each of their previous 100 games in the tournament.
  • George North’s try against Italy was his 20th in the Six Nations – only Shane Williams (22), Ian Smith (24 in the Five Nations) and Brian O’Driscoll (26) have scored more in the Championship.
  • Josh Adams has scored 10 tries in his last eight Tests.

Match officials

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

Touch judges: Luke Pearce (England) & Mike Fraser (New Zealand)

TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

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