"It was a big game-shifter" - Alun Wyn Jones laments Wales' missed opportunity
A tight call.
When Stuart Hogg dropped the ball over the Irish line last week, he described it as a "schoolboy error", and it played a huge role in Ireland's tight 19-12 win over Scotland on the opening weekend of the Six Nations. While no one could blame Welsh centre Hadleigh Parkes for his fractional knock-on on the Irish whitewash, it ended a spell of intense Welsh pressure in the Irish 22, and kept 12 points between the teams.
On these small moments, entire games can turn.
😮 Ireland let off again!
Hadleigh Parkes breaks clear and goes over but loses control of the ball millimeters before grounding!
Stuart Hogg last week. Parkes this week!#IREvWAL #GuinnessSixNations #VMTVRugby pic.twitter.com/glxGNqUIM1
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) February 8, 2020
Ireland kicked on from there, Andrew Conway dotting down in the corner to wrap up a winning bonus point before a late Welsh consolation try saw the game end in a 24-14 victory for Andy Farrell's side. After the doom and gloom of Ireland's appalling World Cup campaign, they are now two wins from two and regardless of two huge away fixtures on the horizon, there was a sense of this victory meaning more than just the points on the board for the boys in green.
With the Irish defence under pressure, and a warning from Poite ringing in their ears, Ireland knew they were on the ropes, and the sight of Hadleigh Parkes steaming onto a crash ball seemed to only spell one thing: try. Speaking after the game, Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones recognised how much of a turning point the knock on was;
"As someone out there making those decisions, I think we had two or three penalties on the bounce, could have taken the points but we still would have been behind. It was a bit of a gamble but we got that try, albeit disallowed. I did find the penalties that we had were building, building so potentially... I'm not going to blame Romain (Poite), I'm not saying we needed a card earlier, but we felt from a discipline point of view we were exerting pressure on them. Yeah, we got the card later on in the game (CJ Stander) but that's by the by. The pleasing thing is we did get the drive, the driving try, but they obviously from a points perspective they got another one at the end as well. It was a big game-shifter."
New Head Coach Wayne Pivac also accepted how big a moment it was, but accepted the referee's call;
"It's a big decision, but the decision was right. He didn't have control. So, we didn't get rewarded with the points. But certainly, it wasn't through want of effort, but as Alun's mentioned with 20 minutes to go, it's game on at that point."
With a rest week coming up, Ireland have a fortnight to prepare for a daunting trip to face World Cup finalists England in Twickenham, while Wales get ready to host one of only two sides left in the tournament capable of achieving a Grand Slam: France.