Round two of the 2020 championship kicks off with Ireland v Wales in Dublin – here's what you need to know

Six Nations Ireland v Wales Preview

Round two of the 2020 championship kicks off with Ireland v Wales in Dublin and the visitors are aiming for a record-equalling ninth straight win in the Five/Six Nations. They last achieved the feat between 1970 and 1973.

Both teams started their Six Nations campaigns with victories, Wales beating Italy 42-0 and Ireland seeing off Scotland 19-12, but this match will likely see a step up in intensity – and if Storm Ciara hits Dublin during the match, the conditions will be hugely challenging too.

There were clear signs of a more expansive attacking approach from Wales against the Italians but they are unlikely to be given the same space to work this weekend given Ireland’s swarming defence. Irish fans will be looking for similar signs of progress from their team under Andy Farrell after a hard-fought victory over the Scots.

And both teams will be looking for improvements at the scrum having struggled at that set-piece in the opening fixtures.

So what else do you need to know about the game? Here’s our Six Nations Ireland v Wales Preview…

What’s the big team news?

Andy Farrell has made two injury-enforced changes to the starting XV that beat Scotland in round one.

Robbie Henshaw replaces Garry Ringrose, who has been ruled out until at least round four with a hand injury, at outside-centre and Peter O’Mahony comes into the back row in place of Caelan Doris (concussion), with CJ Stander moving to No 8.

On the bench, the experienced Keith Earls comes in as the outside-back replacement while Max Deegan, yet another talented back-row from the Leinster stable, is set to make his Test debut.

Six Nations Ireland v Wales Preview

Bright spark: Nick Tompkins scores on his debut against Italy (Getty Images)

The one change made by Wayne Pivac is to start Nick Tompkins at centre after an impressive debut against Italy last week. With the Saracen wearing the No 13 shirt, George North reverts to the wing and Johnny McNicholl drops to the bench.

There are a few different names amongst the replacements compared to last week, with Rhys Carre, Adam Beard and Gareth Davies coming into the match-day 23. Owen Williams had been named on the bench but was injured in the warm-up at the Aviva Stadium, with Jarrod Evans taking his place.

What have the coaches said?

Ireland coach Andy Farrell: “If we win a few more collisions and are a bit more accurate winning the race to the breakdown, the creative side will come a bit more. Sometimes I thought we were too creative (against Scotland), decision-making was a little too expansive, but that’s all a work in progress.”

Wales coach Wayne Pivac: “This will be a real test to see where we are at and how much work we’ve got to do to be able to play the game under pressure. They are very strong and we’ve got to bring a physical edge to the game. If you don’t bring that physicality you are going to come off second best. They are good at grinding teams down and getting go-forward and penalties tend to come.”

Any interesting statistics?

  • It’s eight years since Ireland lost to Wales at the Aviva Stadium in the Six Nations. Since that 23-21 defeat in 2012 – secured with a last-minute Leigh Halfpenny penalty – there have been two wins and a draw.
  • Wales recorded 11 entries into the opposition 22 against Italy compared to Ireland’s tally of five against Scotland.
  • Ireland won ten turnovers against Scotland last week – twice as many as any other side.
  • The 42-0 result last week against Italy was the first time Wales have kept a clean sheet in the Six Nations era.

What time does it kick off and is it on TV?

Ireland v Wales, Saturday 8 February, Aviva Stadium

The first game of round two kicks off at 2.15pm in Dublin and is live on ITV, S4C and Virgin Media (Ireland). You can also listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and RTE.

Romain Poite, of France, is the referee for this match and is assisted by England’s Luke Pearce and Mike Fraser, of New Zealand. Another Kiwi, Glenn Newman, is the TMO.

What are the line-ups?

IRELAND: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (captain), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Max Deegan, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Keith Earls.

Six Nations Ireland v Wales Preview

To the Max: Deegan, here in action for Leinster, is set to make his Ireland debut from the bench (Getty Images)

WALES: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Adam Beard, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl

The March 2020 issue of Rugby World magazine – a Six Nations special – is on sale now.

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