It was the battle of the Celts in the first of a double-header in Perth as John Kears winless Wales came up against Mark Aston’s Ireland side in the final game of the World Cup for both sides.
Even though both sides would be going home at the final hooter there was still pride, local bragging rights and future international places to play for. There were plenty of familiar names on show from both Super League and the Championship.
Wales needed a sixty-four point winning margin to finish ahead of the Irish but that looked a very difficult ask against an Irish side who have impressed in their opening two games.
A great scoot from acting half back by Michael McIlorum saw him make twenty metres before finding Apirana Pewhairangi in support to open the Irish account on seven minutes. Liam Finn added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Despite spending most of their time in their own half, and without the ball, Wales were holding their own and on twenty-three it looked like they may level the scores but Reagan Grace was denied for a foot in touch.
Just after the half-hour Oliver Roberts pushed away the Wales tacklers to get the ball on the ground over the Welsh try line. Finn added the conversion for a twelve point lead. Three minutes later and Joe Philbin made his way to the line for short range try. Finn kicked the extra two for 18-0.
A minute before the interval Liam Finn was on the end of a defensive breakout for Ireland to push away three Wales tacklers and ground. He hit the upright with his conversion attempt for 22-0 half time lead.
It was a much better second half from Wales and on fifty-seven they got their first try of the day when Ben Morris took and offload and stretched for the line. Courtney Davies kicked the conversion for 22-6.
Oliver Roberts had a try turned down for Ireland on sixty-one after the video referee spotted that he lost possession in the act of grounding the ball. On sixty-five Roberts managed to get the ball on the ground after running into the defensive Welsh wall and pushing them back over the line. Finn added the goal for 28-6.
A seventy-third minute Liam Kay try owed a debt to the footwork of Pewhairangi and a brilliant McIlorum miss-out pass as the winger went over in the left corner. Finn sailed the conversion between the uprights from the touchline for a final score of 34-6, Ireland’s biggest ever World Cup winning margin.
This was another great performance from an impressive Ireland side who leave the competition with two wins our of three games, showing up the defects in a competition structure which sees Samoa progressing to the quarter finals with just a single point from a draw to their name. Wales put up a better fight than they had in their previous World Cup 2017 outings but were far below the standard required in the competition.
Ireland: Grix, McDonnell, Chamberlain, Pewhairangi (T), Kay (T), Keyes, Finn (T, 5G), Mullally, McIlorum, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Hope, Singleton. Subs: King, Haddon, Philbin (T), Roberts (2T).