North double ends Ireland's Six Nations hopes

Francis Osborne
March 11, 2017

While the Irish could still be in the hunt for the Six Nations title, even if they fail to get the better of Wales on Friday, it will be out of their hands, with Ireland needing Scotland to beat England on Saturday.

With the knowledge that defeat could put them at risk of dropping out of the world's top eight ahead of May's Rugby World Cup draw, Wales started the game at break-neck speed.

"When we actually look at the games (England and Scotland), if we were getting completely outplayed, I would be a little bit anxious".

"This is a good team and we've got the opportunity to go out in front of our home supporters and deliver a performance the players are proud of and it's equally important for the supporters to support that".

McBryde, who played hooker for Wales alongside Howley and assistant coach Neil Jenkins, added: "We're in a goldfish bowl in Wales and you're aware of it".

Wales needs to play a tight game against Ireland and when they have created space they need to attack and keep the ball alive.

Juggernaut wing George North is among world rugby's most unsafe attacking forces when on top form but he has struggled in the Test arena this season.

No sooner had the replacement come on then Wales sprang from a line-out.

He said: "I was really impressed with him and Sam against Scotland".

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North has scored 28 tries for Wales in 67 Tests and needs a big game, but he would not be alone from a Welsh perspective as they strive to avoid suffering three successive Six Nations defeats for the first time since 2007.

The British and Irish Lions star departed for a head injury assessment, temporarily replaced by Ulster's Paddy Jackson. Perhaps this is a new experience for this squad of players, but they have got to come through it.

"Ireland are more than happy to go with it being closed".

North, the strapping right winger, crossed in each half under the Principality Stadium roof at the end of a week when he was given a "warning" by the Welsh management for a poor defensive display in the recent loss to Scotland. We're going to be battered and bruised afterwards and that's what the games against Ireland are like.

It will be interesting to see if they opt for more of the same if awarded a penalty inside Johnny Sexton's range during the opening stages in Cardiff.

Openside flanker Justin Tipuric will win his 50th cap.

New Zealand: TV: Sky Sport.

Wales: L Halfpenny (Toulon); G North (Northampton), J Davies (Scarlets), S Williams (Scarlets), L Williams (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), R Webb (Ospreys); R Evans (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), S Warburton (Cardiff Blues), J Tipuric (Ospreys), R Moriarty (Gloucester).

Ireland R Kearney (Bowe 80); Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Zebo; Sexton, Murray (Marmion, 46); McGrath (Healy, 59), Best (capt, Scannell, 80), Furlong (J Ryan, 80), D Ryan, Toner (Henderson, 63), Stander (O'Mahony, 63), O'Brien, Heaslip.

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