Howley opts against Wales overhaul for Ireland clash

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Ireland are the only side yet to concede a second-half try in this year's RBS 6 Nations and the returning influence of Jonathan Sexton alongside Conor Murray in the half-backs could be key.

"We've shown faith in them as coaches that we feel there is a lot more to come, they are deserving of that opportunity and this is their shot at it". "We expected a dry pitch", said the Ireland head coach, Joe Schmidt.

George North led the resurgent Wales performance with a pair of tries as Ireland struggled to cope with his power and pace.

Wales can do England a favour tonight.

England will secure Six Nations silverware for a second successive season if they beat Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday after North blew away their closest challengers.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny added a penalty and two conversions, while substitute centre Jamie Roberts touched down two minutes from time as Ireland played nearly a quarter of the match without their fly-half talisman Johnny Sexton, who went off for a head injury assessment and was later sin-binned.

Alun Wyn Jones has hailed the rugby brain of Ospreys and Wales team-mate Justin Tipuric ahead of the flanker's 50th global appearance.

Three minutes before half time, Ireland suffered a blow as Sexton was sin-binned by Barnes, with the referee deeming that the out-half "clearly killed the ball on the line" as Wales nearly got in for a try.

Sexton looked perplexed at the decision, and Halfpenny's simple penalty made it 8-6, ending a gripping 40 minutes that enthralled a capacity 74,000 crowd.

Murray had played on with his left wrist bandaged but every tackle was made with a grimace and he was replaced by Kieran Marmion after the try.

Rob Howley (Wales head coach): "I know things have been said in the week about some players' performance".

"For myself, personally, there is still a level of hurt there from the Scottish defeat, and I am sure the players are feeling that as well, so we need to react in a positive manner against what will be a very confident Ireland team". No, there are rather more pressing matters.

New Zealand: TV: Sky Sport.

A penalty from Sexton brought Ireland within a converted try but backs-to-the-wall defense kept Wales ahead, and replacement Jamie Roberts collected his own charge-down to clinch victory with a 79th-minute try.

Halfpenny, North, J Davies, S Williams, L Williams, Biggar, Webb; Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, Jones (capt), Warburton, Tipuric, Moriarty.

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