Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ireland vs Wales 6 nations Rugby Union : 2/5 11PM GMT 8

Rugby Union - Six Nations 2012: 12BET tips Ireland vs Wales 6 nations 2/5 11PM GMT+8

IT seems like only yesterday that Wales were thrashing Ireland in the World Cup, but so much has changed during the intervening four months.Our star, shining so brightly on that never-to-be-forgotten three-try evening in Wellington, has subsequently dimmed with successive defeats to France and Australia (twice).Warren Gatland’s preparation for tomorrow’s big Six Nations opener in Dublin has also been badly affected by the loss through injury of a third of the team which performed so splendidly in that quarter-final in New Zealand.Two other injury casualties, Rhys Priestland and Jamie Roberts, do line up in the Aviva Stadium return clash tomorrow, but there have to be question marks over just how fit they really are.What’s happened at regional level has hardly kept the World Cup buzz going, either, with the once glittering Ospreys and the Blues seeing an alarming slump in attendances.At least the Blues did manage to reach the quarter-finals of the Heineken Cup.

The Ospreys bombed, while the Scarlets faded after a promising start.Contrast Welsh fortunes with those on the other side of the Irish Sea where, despite an economic recession which is much deeper than ours, rugby is on an incredible high.Leinster, Munster and Ulster each stormed into the last eight of the Heineken while attendances are booming across the board, even at little Connacht.Given what happened when Ireland and Wales last met, it should be Gatland’s men going into the Six Nations opener on a high, full of confidence and tagged as favourites.Instead, it is the Irish who seem to have the momentum as they seek to avenge that World Cup loss in front of their own expectant people.The absence of Brian O’Driscoll doesn’t appear to have worried the Irish too much, although it’s going to be hugely interesting to see whether he, or our own Shane Williams, is the talisman missed most.Believe it or not, this is the first time O’Driscoll has missed a game against Wales since lining up against them 12 years ago. -

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