Ireland scored all the second-half points as they ground out a 26-point victory in Round 3 of the 2006 RBS Nations at Lansdowne Road. Defending Grand-Slam champions Wales held Ireland to an 11-5 half-time lead following Mark Jones's early try. But unanswered tries from Shane Horgan and Peter Stringer and the boot of Ronan O'Gara saw Ireland run out victors.
Wales have now lost both of their games away from home in the Championship but at least they will take comfort knowing their remaining matches - against Italy and France - are both at the Millennium Stadium. It had been a difficult two weeks for the team and coach Johnson following the departure of former coach Mike Ruddock and the loss of captain Gareth Thomas to injury.
But they got off to a dream start at Lansdowne Road when Jones touched down to score after just eight minutes. Mathew Watkins was the creative spark. His break was followed by Dafydd James and Stephen Jones before the Scarlets centre chipped over the Irish defence. Andrew Trimble misjudged the bounce and Jones pounced. It was the least Wales deserved after dominating the first 20 minutes though
an O'Gara penalty hauled Ireland back into the game.
Wales were then hit hard by an injury to outside-half and playmaker Stephen Jones with a dead leg on 20 minutes. It was a huge loss after Jones had run the show for the first quarter though his exit did open the door for Gavin Henson's return to international rugby following surgery and then suspension.
However it will probably be a return that the Ospreys star will want to forget as Wales's fortunes fell into decline. Trimble broke free to send Ireland surging forward and only the defence work of Martyn Williams and Rhys Thomas denied David Wallace a try. However from the resulting scrum, the Irish back-row was not to be denied and surged over on 26 minutes.
O'Gara missed the conversion but added a second penalty after Lee Byrne last-ditch tackle denied Jerry Flannery. At half-time the game was finely poised but Horgan's try four minutes into the second half saw the game swing in Ireland's favour.
The British Lion sliced through the Welsh defence and O'Gara added the conversion and a further two penalties to open a 24-5 lead on the hour. Prop Gethin Jenkins, flanker Gareth Delve and hooker Mefin Davies all took the field for Wales could not ignite a resurgence.
The game took a worrying turn when Ireland prop Marcus Horan left the field on a stretcher with a neck injury. And Ireland were reduced further when Denis Leamy was yellow carded for stamping a minute from time.
Yet Ireland's pack were on form and finally broke Welsh hearts after yet more courageous defending when scrum-half Stringer nipped over in injury-time.
Try - M Jones
Tries - D Wallace, S Horgan, P Stringer
Cons - R O'Gara (2)
Pens - R O'Gara (4).
Ire Con: O´Gara (82 mins)
Ire Try: Stringer (81 mins)
Ire Pen: O´Gara (58 mins)
Ire Pen: O´Gara (46 mins)
Ire Con: O´Gara (43 mins)
Ire Try: Horgan (42 mins)
Ire Pen: O´Gara (34 mins)
Ire Try: Wallace (24 mins)
Ire Pen: O´Gara (15 mins)
Wal Try: Jones M (8 mins)
Ireland: G Murphy; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, A Trimble; R O'Gara, P Stringer; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, M O'Kelly, S Easterby, D Wallace, D Leamy Replacements: R Best, S Best, M O'Driscoll, J O'Connor, E Reddan, D Humphreys, G Dempsey
Wales: L Byrne; M Jones, H Luscombe, M Watkins, D James; S Jones, D Peel; D Jones, R Thomas, A Jones, I Gough, R Sidoli, C Charvis, M Williams, M Owen (capt) Replacements: M Davies, G Jenkins, J Thomas, G Delve, M Phillips, G Henson, B Davies
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (SA)
TJs: Chris White (Eng), Malcolm Changleng (Sco)
TV: Marius Jonker (SA)