Ireland began their Six Nations campaign with a victory against defending champions Wales in a remarkable match at the Millennium Stadium.
The visitors were in a rampant mood from the first whistle and tries from Simon Zebo and Cian Healy put them in firm control. Ireland turned their superiority into points as they raced into a 20-0 lead after only 29 minutes.
Wales raised the level of their performance as the half progressed but it took 33 minutes until they registered any points through Leigh Halfpenny’s penalty. Dave Sexton had a perfect half with five successful kicks as the visitors restored their 20-point lead with a late score just before the interval.
Ireland’s dominance continued early in the second half when Brian O’Driscoll went over the line and Sexton added the conversion. The hosts showed some passion as Alex Cuthbert breached the Irish defence to score a try as Halfpenny added the extras to leave them trailing 30-10 with half an hour left.
Just before the hour mark Halfpenny gave Wales hope of a revival as he added another try as they narrowed the deficit to 30-15.
From that point the hosts were the only team attacking as Ireland defended resolutely. Their resistance was broken when Craig Mitchell crossed the line and Halfpenny added the conversion with five minutes remaining.
Ultimately despite a spirited second half display it proved too little too late for the Welsh. The defeat meant Wales lost their fifth consecutive game at home for the first time in their history.