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Wales peg Ireland back to draw opener

Wales player George North (left) runs past Robbie Henshaw, of Ireland, in Dublin yesterday.

Wales player George North (left) runs past Robbie Henshaw, of Ireland, in Dublin yesterday.

Wales drew 16-16 with defending champions Ireland in an absorbing Six Nations opener yesterday, clawing back a 13-point first-half deficit to take the lead before Johnny Sexton levelled with a late penalty.

With trips to France and England next up, injury-hit Ireland needed to get their defence off to a positive start and took a 13-0 lead thanks to a try from scrumhalf Conor Murray and flawless kicking from Sexton.

Wales cut the difference to three points when Toby Faletau burst over the line just before half-time and were level just after thanks to a Rhys Priestland penalty. It took almost half an hour for the replacement flyhalf to edge them ahead.

However, Sexton replied immediately as his long-range effort sneaked over to share the points.

Debutant man of the match C.J. Stander insists Ireland can still chase an unprecedented third consecutive Six Nations title despite yesterday’s result.

“It’s points on the board, so we’ll take that and move forward,” Stander told RTE Television. “Both teams came out and played great rugby.

“I’m proud of the boys to hold on at the end.

“When we had the ball we did some great work, in the first half we were flying, the second half we slipped a bit but it was a good effort.

“It’s a good start and we can build on that.”

Next fixtures
Saturday: 15.25 France vs Ireland; 17.50 Wales vs Scotland.
Sunday: 15.00 Italy vs England.

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