Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale dives over for one of his two tries against Wales on Saturday. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

CARDIFF – Ireland, inspired by two-try Jacob Stockdale, bounced back to ruin Warren Gatland’s Cardiff farewell with a 22-17 World Cup warm-up win over Wales on Saturday.

Gatland, stepping down after the tournament in Japan following 12 years as Wales coach, opted to field a reserve side against an equally experimental Irish line-up in his last home game in charge.

But he left the Principality Stadium wondering what could have been as Ireland’s fringe players gelled immediately, while Wales, despite a superb late fight-back, struggled for fluency and accuracy early on.

Stockdale, brilliantly set up by fellow wing Andrew Conway, crossed in the left corner after 18 minutes, and then pounced on a Welsh handling error and dashed over again 10 minutes later.

Wales, losing 22-3 with 20 minutes left, scored two late tries, but could not complete a fairytale ending for Gatland.

Ireland, who saw off Italy in their opening World Cup warm-up only to be shocked 57-15 by England at Twickenham last week, made 11 changes on Friday, while Wales made 14.

The result also saw Wales lose their short-lived status as the world’s top-ranked side, although Gatland had dismissed the importance of that accolade compared to his team’s ambitions in the upcoming World Cup.

Points-Scorers

Ireland 22 – Tries: Jacob Stockdale (2), Penalty Try. Conversion: Jack Carty (1). Penalty: Carty (1).

Wales 17 – Tries: Owen Lane, Rhys Patchell. Conversions: Patchell (2). Penalty: Jarrod Evans (1).

Reuters