MX23RW : Tuesday, April 23 18:38:58| >> :600:2932822:2932822:
Six Nations | Group Stage
Feb 24, 2024 at 2.15pm UK
Sheehan (21'), Lowe (32'), Frawley (67'), Beirne (80')
Penalty (43')

Preview: Ireland vs. Wales - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Six Nations clash between Ireland and Wales, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

After a week's break, the 2024 Six Nations will resume this weekend, with week three's action kicking off in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium, where Ireland will take on Wales.

After taking the full ten points available in their first two matches, Ireland are now the clear favourites to win a second consecutive title according to the latest odds, while Wales have managed three points in their two games and are still in search of their first win of the competition.

Match preview

Ireland's Dan Sheehan celebrates after the match on September 28, 2023© Reuters

As we reach the halfway point of the competition, Ireland have already begun to look a cut above the rest and have squashed any concerns about whether they would be able to bounce back from their World Cup disappointment.

The Shamrocks kicked off their 2024 Six Nations campaign in fine style, claiming their biggest-ever win against France, which well and truly sent out a clear message to the rest of the sides in the competition.

Andy Farrell's side followed up that result with a ruthless performance a week later, thrashing Italy 36-0 at this venue, with Dan Sheehan leading the charge, running in two of Ireland's six tries on the day.

With that result, the reigning champions have now secured victory in 10 consecutive Six Nations matches, making them only the second nation, after England (11) between 2015 and 2017, to achieve this feat since Italy joined the Championship in 2000.

Ireland will now come into this encounter having won each of their last 17 Test matches on home soil, which is their longest-ever winning streak in Test rugby.

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny celebrates with family after the match on September 16, 2023© Reuters

Meanwhile, Wales are in a transition period, and it showed in the first half of their opening match in the competition when they trailed Scotland 20-0 at half time and looked dead and buried in the contest.

However, they refused to go down without a fight and conjured up an incredible comeback in the second period, but despite their best efforts, they came up agonisingly short, losing by just a single point, 27-26.

It was a different situation a week later at Twickenham, though, as the Dragons shot to a nine-point lead at the break but failed to find the same type of second-half performance as they did in round one and suffered another narrow loss, with England finding extra in the latter stages.

In complete contrast to their opponents in this match and following a second year of losing both opening matches, Warren Gatland's side have now only won one of their last 10 Six Nations matches while losing the other nine.

Wales have also lost six of their last seven matches against this opponent, including back-to-back defeats in this competition, and they have not tasted victory in the Six Nations in Ireland since 2012 when they went on to win the Grand Slam.

Ireland Six Nations form:

  • W
  • W

Ireland form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Wales Six Nations form:

  • L
  • L

Wales form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

Team News

Ireland's Tadhg Furlong reacts after Jamison Gibson-Park scores their second try on October 14, 2023© Reuters

Hugo Keenan was a doubt for this match after sustaining a knee injury in their win over Italy and has now been ruled out, with Ciaran Frawley being given the nod to start in his place at full-back.

Caelan Doris has overcome an injury concern and will rejoin the back row, while Peter O'Mahony and prop Tadhg Furlong are also fit and will accompany Doris in Ireland's formidable pack.

James Ryan returns to the bench, along with Ryan Baird, Jack Conan, Conor Murray and Stuart McCloskey, who will serve as additional impact options, with Farrell opting to revert to a 6-2 split.

Gatland has made one change to his starting line-up for their Six Nations match against the reigning champions, with Sam Costelow returning to the 10 jersey for Wales after missing out last week at Twickenham.

Costelow will start alongside Tomos Williams in the half-paring, while Nick Tompkins and George North will once again team up in midfield, with youngster Cameron Winnett retaining his place at full-back.

In the front row, prop duo Gareth Thomas and Keiron Assiratti will pack down on either side of hooker Elliot Dee, while captain Dafydd Jenkins will partner with Adam Beard in the second row.

Ireland starting lineup: 15 Ciaran Frawley, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Oli Jager, 19 James Ryan, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Jack Conan, 22 Conor Murray, 23 Stuart McCloskey

Wales starting lineup: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Josh Adams, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Alex Mann, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Dafydd Jenkins (c), 3 Keiron Assiratti, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Gareth Thomas

Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Mason Grady

SM words green background

We say: Ireland 38-13 Wales

With the form Ireland have shown over the first two matches of the competition, it is difficult to make much of a case for the visitors in this one. The Shamrocks look well on their way to defending their title, and we feel they will secure another commanding victory in this match.

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