Phillips produced a sensational performance as Wales won

Wales beat Ireland 22-10 in the first quarter-final of Rugby World Cup 2011 at the Wellington Regional Stadium in a match of high intensity and plenty of skill.

The Welsh led 10-3 at half-time through a try by Shane Williams, converted by Rhys Priestland and a long penalty from Leigh Halfpenny to a penalty from Ronan O’Gara.

But Ireland quickly drew level when a messy, but effective, backline move put Keith Earls over wide on the left in the valiant tackle of Mike Phillips, which the video referee ruled on.

The match took on a topsy turvy look when Phillips scored Wales’ second try in the 50th minute, with a fine solo effort. He beat Gordon D’Arcy and dived over in the corner and the video referee was again called on to rule. Priestland missed the conversion, but Wales had hit back to lead 15-10.

Priestland had a penalty attempt in the 58th minute. The ball swerved away late and hit the upright and bounced to safety.

But Wales went further ahead in the 64th minute when Jonathan Davies cut inside two haphazard defenders and Priestland added the conversion for a 22-10 lead.

Five minutes later Sean O’Brien knocked on in front of the Welsh line as Ireland attempted to get back into the match, which was a barnstorming affair from the first minute.

With seven minutes left Priestland hit the upright for the second time in the match, but Wales were well in command.

Ireland had enjoyed the territorial advantage in the first half, playing with the wind, and were dominating in everything but the score.

Williams opened the scoring for Wales in the third minute after the early part of the match was marked by relentless pressure on the Ireland line. The great start from the Welsh was accentuated by a superb touchline conversion from Priestland.

Unlike the Welsh, who easily beat the Irish defence for Williams’ early try, similar chances for the Irish at the other end were foiled by some excellent defence, which ended when the Dragons snaffled the ball and Priestland punted it to halfway.

The Irish desire to score an equalising try saw O’Gara spurn relatively easy kicks for goal on three occasions in the first quarter.

But in the 23rd minute O’Gara decided to go for goal from right in front, after Huw Bennett was penalised joining a ruck incorrectly. O’Gara scored his 200th Test penalty to make the score 7-3, before Halfpenny gave Wales the seven-point cushion at the break.

Leigh Halfpenny quickly responded to that Irish advance by landing a penalty against the wind in the 28th minute from near halfway for 10-3 at the break.

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