Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Wales and Ireland slog it out in Six Nations

Simon Zebo of Ireland moves away from Jamie Roberts during the Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales. Photo/Getty
Simon Zebo of Ireland moves away from Jamie Roberts during the Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales. Photo/Getty

Uncertain reactions flowed through Ireland and Wales after their deadlock start to the Six Nations series in Dublin but when analysis replaces reactions, Wales may feel the most aggrieved they did not claim a victory.

They were 13-0 behind after half an hour as the rejigged Irish side played competently while the visitors had to replace an injured Dan Biggar with Rhys Priestland at first five eighths.

Wales got their game together enough for Toby Faletau to score off the back of the scrum and with Priestland's conversion and a penalty, Wales were only 13-10 adrift at the break.

Two second half Priestland penalties against a late kick from Jonny Sexton left a 16-all stalemate but Wales will point to Biggar missing a handy penalty and Priestland skewing several dropped goal attempts.

He was close at the start of the second spell but well astray in the final minutes as Ireland's rush defence upset his timing.

"We were disappointed with how we started but good sides get themselves back into the game and we did that and possibly should have come away with a win," Wales coach Warren Gatland said.

"We dominated the territory and possession to get in front.

"Then to not execute an exit play accurately enough was disappointing. I don't want to take anything away from Ireland. They contributed well and maybe a draw was a fair reflection of the game."

Linebreaks were infrequent although Ireland managed to push Simon Zebo and Sexton into some holes while Wales rarely got their battering approach to breach. Wing George North managed a few forays and replacement starting fullback Liam Williams also looked handy.

Ireland's lineout was a steady combination between skipper Rory Best and his targets and their new looseforward combination bristled throughout the match. Their pack was unsettled in the scrums though as newer Welsh props Rob Evans and Samson Lee generated some frontrow heat.

"It's a better result than a draw normally would be," said the Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt. "I thought there were some really outstanding Welsh performances, and it will give us confidence that we managed to hang in there."

Ireland travel to Paris for their second round match this weekend while Wales host Scotland in Cardiff.

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