Try! Jacob Stockdale, Wales 3-15 Ireland
28 min: Now this is a piece of magic from a more familiar Irish back, Jacob Stockdale. A pass falls loose for Wales near the halfway line and Stockdale is on to it like a flash. He kicks ahead, sprints on to the bouncing ball, collects it and dives over. A predatory score and Ireland are looking a lot sharper. Carty misses a tough conversion attempt from out on the touchline.
27 min: Ireland’s No 8 is penalised for off side right in front of the posts. Evans pulls a simple penalty to the left and the score stays at 10-3 to Ireland.
23 min: What’s going on here? We’ve got a streaker, or at least a pitch invader. Romain Poite delays a line-out while the stewards demonstrate their rugby skills – probably too late for them to make the plane to Japan.
Try! Wales 3-10 Ireland
17min: Brilliant try for Ireland! Electric pace by Munster man Conway through the middle leaves the Wales defence floundering, and a good pass to Stockdale, who is in acres of space, allows him to cross in the corner for a try. Carty adds the extras. That was class from Conway, an outstanding piece of skill. Concerning for Gatland to see the hosts torn open by a solo run through the middle.
Wales 3-3 Ireland, Jarrod Evans penalty
16 min: Peter O’Mahony is pinged by referee Poite for not rolling away and Evans knocks a simple penalty over for Wales. It’s all square and Jarrod Evans has started impressively for the home side.
14min: Jarrod Evans puts an excellent kick over Stockdale’s head, out wide. It is superbly weighted for his right-winger but in the end it comes to nothing as the visitors scramble their defence.
13 min: Considering the amount of changes made by both sides, it is hardly surprising that neither Wales nor Ireland have begun this match especially fluently. It’s a bit nervy.
Wales 0-3 Ireland, Carty penalty
8 min: Ireland won a penalty at that aforementioned scrum. They attack up the middle and good hands free Jacob Stockdale, before they win a penalty from Wales captain Navidi for not rolling away. Carty puts a fine kick over and Ireland are up and running.
5 min: An attacking scrum for Wales is reset, and they make ground with a big shove at the second time of asking. Good defensive shape under pressure by Ireland, though, now brings their own put-in at a scrum.
2min: “Pressure, pressure, pressure,” shouts a Wales defender after Ireland secure possession from the kick-off. But after a good kick for touch by Ireland, Wales lose a line-out just inside their own half. Jarrod Evans, making his first start for the hosts, chases a good Will Addison kick to the corner, and tidies it up impressively.
We are under way at the Principality Stadium, as referee French Romain Poite blows his whistle to begin proceedings.
Time for the anthems – and doubtless, that moment of personal reflection that Gatland spoke about before the match. He doesn’t need a successful Rugby World Cup to secure his legacy or his reputation – but it would certainly be a nice way to go out.
Co-commentator Jamie Heaslip: “For Ireland, this is a game they need to win more than Wales. They are at an all-time low in terms of confidence.” It might be a warm-up, but this is a huge day for both teams.
We are 10 minutes away from kick-off at the Principality Stadium. Sam Warburton, on pundit duty, believes Ireland will be ‘100% better” than last week against England. It’s interesting to hear Schmidt say he deliberately made his players fatigued against England. It seems a risky game to play in terms of keeping morale up ahead of the World Cup. But if it helps them perform in Japan, he is a genius …
How have Ireland spent the past week of training, Channel 4 ask Ireland coach Joe Schmidt: “I think we’ve just freshened guys up,” he replies. “We have some games with a five-six day turnaround … guys were a little bit fatigued going into the game [against England] last week because that will be the reality at the World Cup … some of these players don’t get to go [to Japan] unless there is a big performance today. Hopefully you’ll see a much better performance on the back of being fresher and a lot more focused.”
Thanks to Ireland fan John McEnerney for getting in touch on Twitter:
“Happy to see James Ryan back in the XV,” John says. “We need a super mega massive performance today regardless of the opposition No1 ranking…its not their best XV. Peter O’M will rally his troops from the back of the scrum no better buachaill to do it.”
‘buachaill’ means boy, by the way.
Gatland: “The players know how important today is. They know a really good performance might get them on the plane to Japan.” Enough said.
Prop Rhys Carre and wing Owen Lane both make their international debuts for Wales today in a side captained by Josh Navidi. Fly-half Jarrod Evans makes his first start.
Lots of relatively unfamiliar faces for Ireland, too: It will be interesting to see how English-born Will Addison does at full-back, while Jack Carty of Connacht starts at No 10 alongside his provincial half-back colleague Kieran Marmion at scrum-half.
“Irish eyes aren’t smiling,” says Channel 4’s Lee McKenzie in her intro, referring to Ireland’s recent poor form. At least we’ve got it out of the way early.
Gatland is understandably keen to focus on performance and his World Cup squad selection, but there is no doubt that Wales fans want to take the chance to thank Gatland today:
In a pre-match press conference, Gatland played down the significance of today being his final match as coach in Cardiff.
“It will be quite emotional,” he said. “I’ve had an unbelievable time here in Wales, and the people I think have made my time here incredibly special.
“It’s not about me, there are 31 players who will be selected on Sunday…There is no way I want to overshadow what is probably more important for those individuals than me having the last game in the stadium. I will have a personal reflection, and reflect on how memorable that’s been, without making a big fuss about it.”
Wales: Amos; Lane, Scott Williams, Watkin, Steff Evans; Jarrod Evans, Aled Davies; Carre, Elias, Lee, Beard, Bradley Davies, Shingler, James Davies, Navidi (capt.).
Replacements: Dee, Evans, Brown, Ball, Wainwright, Tomos Williams, Patchell, Holmes.
Ireland: Addison; Conway, Farrell, Aki, Stockdale; Carty, Marmion; Kilcoyne, Scannell, John Ryan, Henderson, James Ryan, Beirne, O’Mahony (capt.), Conan.
Replacements: Best, Porter, Furlong, Toner, Murphy, McGrath, Ringrose, Kearney.
Good afternoon and welcome. The 2019 Rugby World Cup is just around the corner and this afternoon’s match at the Principality Stadium, the penultimate warm-up for both sides, will see a number of fringe players make their case for a seat on the plane to Japan.
This is Warren Gatland’s final match in Cardiff, as the curtain falls on his 11 years as Wales coach. His team have topped the world rankings for the past two weeks, which seems a fitting way to mark the phenomenal job Gatland has done.
But Gatland’s work ethic, and the proximity of the World Cup, will ensure there is no risk of his players regarding this as some kind of coronation. Gatland has made 14 changes to the team that beat England here last time out, so it’s an unfamiliar line-up. After today there is a final warm-up against Ireland in Dublin next week before their tournament opener against Georgia in just over three weeks’ time.
While Wales are building momentum and shrugging off the rustiness that characterised their defeat by England three weeks ago, Ireland seem to be in a pickle. Robbed of key players by injury, they were blown away by England at Twickenham last week. Certainly they are no longer regarded as the northern Hemisphere’s best hope of lifting the World Cup. Joe Schmidt has made 11 changes to his starting XV for today, although that’s more to have a look at a few contenders, rather than punishing the players beaten by England.
It feels like a long time since Ireland’s rousing victory over the All Blacks in Dublin last November, but it’s not too late for the meticulous Schmidt and his squad to pull things together in time for the Japan showpiece. Schmidt insists his team ‘are in a better place to play rugby’ than last week, which is useful. But another heavy defeat, albeit for an unfamiliar-looking team, would be hard to stomach.
Kick-off: 2.30pm BST