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Six Nations | Wales defeat 14-man Ireland in Cardiff

Ireland have suffered a 21-16 defeat to Wales at the Principality Stadium in their opening 2021 Six Nations match.

Ireland led 13-6 at half time, despite playing 27 minutes of the first half with 14 men, but were unable to prevent Wales from completing a spirited comeback.

Andy Farrell's men, who had Peter O'Mahony sent off for a reckless tackle in the 13th minute, squandered the opportunity to snatch victory in the dying seconds when substitute Billy Burns' kick failed to find touch deep in the Welsh half.

Wales scored the game's first points in Cardiff, with Leigh Halfpenny splitting the posts with a fifth-minute penalty after an infringement by O'Mahony.

Ireland then suffered an enormous blow in the 13th minute when O'Mahony, who now holds the unwanted record of becoming the first Irish player to be sent off in the tournament, was shown red for making contact with the head of Tomas Francis in a ruck. After consultation with TMO Tom Foley, referee Wayne Barnes issued O'Mahony with his marching orders.

Five minutes later, Halfpenny doubled Wales' lead with his second penalty after Johnny Sexton's high tackle, but Ireland responded strongly.

Iain Henderson replaced James Ryan after the latter required a HIA, while Wales' Johnny Williams also had to leave the pitch for an assessment.

Two penalties from captain Sexton ('29 and '35) restored parity before Tadhg Beirne crossed for the match's first try in the 37th minute.

James Lowe launched a huge clearance downfield after Ireland stole Wales' lineout, and a scintillating run from Robbie Henshaw broke through the Welsh defensive line.

He found Josh van der Flier, who subsequently popped it off for Beirne to barrel over the whitewash from point-blank range.

Sexton duly converted to give 14-man Ireland a 13-6 lead at the break.

The tied turned in the second half.

George North's 42nd international try in the 49th minute was an excellent one, and debutant Louis Rees-Zammit capitalised on a penalty advantage to dive over in the corner for Wales' second try 10 minutes later.

Halfpenny converted to make it 18-16 on the hour mark, before extending Wayne Pivac's hosts' lead with a penalty in the 66th minute.

Sexton was then forced off after a collision with Justin Tipuric, with Burns replacing the Leinster star.

Burns then scored a 72nd-minute penalty to give Ireland hope, before his ill-judged kick in the final seconds denied Ireland an opportunity to secure a last-gasp victory.

Next up for Farrell's men is a meeting with France at the Aviva Stadium next Sunday at 3pm.


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