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RBS 6 Nations 2011: Wales v Ireland Preview

Wales host Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations 2011 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on the evening of Saturday 12th March 2011, with both sides level on 4 points in the tournament.

The loser of this match will know that hopes of 6 Nations success are dead for another season, while the winner will retain a chance at winning the tournament, with Ireland in particular set for a showdown at home against England if they can emerge victorious.

Starting Line-ups

Wales Starting XV

  • 15 Lee Byrne
  • 14 Leigh Halfpenny
  • 13 Jamie Roberts
  • 12 Jonathan Davies
  • 11 Shane Williams
  • 10 James Hook
  • 9 Michael Phillips
  • 1 Paul James
  • 2 matthew Rees (capt)
  • 3 Craig Mitchell
  • 4 Bradley Davies
  • 5 Alun Wyn Jones
  • 6 Dan Lydiate
  • 7 Sam Warburton
  • 8 Ryan Jones

Wales Replacements

  • 16 Richard Hibbard
  • 17 John Yapp
  • 18 Jonathan Thomas
  • 19 Rob McCusker
  • 20 Dyane Peel
  • 21 Stephen Jones
  • 22 Morgan Stoddart

Ireland Starting XV

  • 15 Luke Fitzgerald
  • 14 Tommy Bowe
  • 13 Brian O’Driscoll
  • 12 Gordon D’Arcy
  • 11 Keith Earls
  • 10 Ronan O’Gara
  • 9 Eoin Reddan
  • 1 Cian Healy
  • 2 Rory Best
  • 3 Mike Ross
  • 4 Donncha O’Callaghan
  • 5 Paul O’Connell
  • 6 Sean O’Brien
  • 7 David Wallace
  • 8 Jamie Heaslip

Ireland Replacements

  • 16 Sean Cronin
  • 17 Tom Court
  • 18 Leo Cullen
  • 19 Denis Leamy
  • 20 Peter Stringer
  • 21 Jonathan Sexton
  • 22 Paddy Wallace

Match Officials

  • Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
  • Assistant Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
  • Assistant Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
  • TMO: Geoff Warren (England)

Wales v Ireland RBS 6 Nations 2011 – Match Prediction

This is one of the most intriguing contests of what has been another brilliant 6 Nations championship to date.

On neutral territory, with both sides playing up to their best, Ireland would be considered slight favourites for this match. With Wales at home, in front of thousands of passionate, singing supporters, the balance evens out even more.

This is a difficult match to call in advance, and much will come down to solid individual performances in key areas of the pitch.

If there is a difference between these two sides, it is that Ireland have steadily developed into a professional unit, capable of grinding out results without playing up to their best, while Wales are a little less consistent, often failing to secure victories from the solid platforms they are capable of building.

Ireland are a team full of ageing greats, with much of their better rugby behind them, however, and Wales have no shortage of talent throughout their squad.

Wales play Hook at 10, and Leigh Halfpenny on the right wing, with Stephen Jones and Morgan Stoddart – both fantastic players – starting on the bench, as they look like they are going to go for the five-pointers in this match. Much will depend upon how well Hook, who can be in equal parts sublime and ridiculous, can penetrate the Irish defence, which usually holds firm against all but the best moves.

At the other end, Ronan O’Gara has forced his way back into a green number 10 shirt with relentlessly good kicking, and a cooler head with the ball in hand. He has still got what it takes to compete at the highest level, as has his captain, Brian O’Driscoll. They are supported once more by the classy finisher Tommy Bowe, who will relish running onto gaps created by O’Driscoll and kicks-to-the-corner from the accurate O’Gara.

Wales have got a record-breaking finisher of their own, however, in Shane Williams, so the Irish can be sure that any half chances they present on either side stand every chance of completion.

For their inventive back-line, allied with home support, the feeling is that Wales can take this match by 4-7 points. Don’t be surprised, however, if this interesting encounter swings the other way entirely, if Wales fail to execute on their limited opportunities.

A mouthwatering prospect for rugby union fans awaits at the Millennium Stadium, whether they wear red, green, white or blue.

Wales v Ireland – Match Details

Wales v Ireland will kick-off at 17:00 (GMT) at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, on Saturday 12th March 2011.

Leave your own thoughts and match predictions for Wales v Ireland RBS 6 Nations 2011 in the comments area below.

About Robin Scott

Robin Scott
Robin Scott is co-founder and publisher of The Global Herald.

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