North double ends Ireland's Six Nations hopes

North double ends Ireland's Six Nations hopes

George North has admitted that a return to his barn-storming best with a two-try showing in Wales' thrilling Six Nations victory over Ireland was due to moving up a gear after a brutally honest week of introspection.

North came in for criticism following Wales' defeat to Scotland a fortnight ago with even his own defence coach Shaun Edwards admitting the wing had been off the pace.

A brace of scores took North's global tally to 30 tries in 68 Tests, fourth in an all-time Wales try scorers' list led by Shane Williams on 58, followed by Gareth Thomas, 40, and Ieuan Evans, 33.

Their championship hopes might have crashed in Edinburgh, yet the players' response to interim head coach Rob Howley naming an unchanged team for Ireland's Cardiff visit left no doubt about Wales' true quality.

"We played quite smart but we're a bit disappointed with the contact area".

Joe Schmidt's men responded to their opening-round loss in Murrayfield with victories over Italy and France, and a first Six Nations win over Wales since 2014 will keep them in title contention heading into the final day.

"We always say we are fortunate to have the best supporters in the world and we are eager to put in a performance for them under the lights at Principality Stadium on Friday".

However, they bounced back to take the lead just moments later thanks to some magic from Leinster's Jordan Larmour and Munster's Calvin Nash. The fact we knew we were much better than we had been showing, and the fact results didn't go our way.

More news: Six Nations 2017: Ireland ready for Cardiff noise - Best

Two tries from centre Kieran Williams, including the crucial late score under the posts when the sides were level at 27-27, proved the difference as Wales' potent attack ran in a total of five tries. We wanted an 80-minute performance.

"It's a huge opportunity for us".

The game kicked off at 6.30 p.m. and Ireland quickly fell 3-0 behind.

"England will be coming over to celebrate their title but our aim is to spoil the party and show just what we can do".

Asked if Ireland have lost ground since the autumn series, Schmidt replied: "No, I don't think so".

Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

"That's what we want and we took the three points but we had gone back to the lineout before that, and when you don't convert those it's very tough and it starts, for players, to feel pressure and players get a little bit tense and potentially don't play with freedom".

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