Wales march on to Auckland
Stephen Ferris of Ireland is tackled by the Welsh defense during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Wales broke Irish hearts after booking their place in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals thanks to a 22-10 victory in Wellington on Saturday.
In what was a breathless encounter in the New Zealand capital, the Welsh outscored Ireland by three tries to one to seal a semi-final spot on rugby's biggest stage for the first time since 1987.
It was tough to predict a winner before the start of this quarter-final, but it was clear from the kick-off which team would be marching on to Auckland and who would be heading home in arguably the game of the tournament.
It was simple: Wales took their chances, Ireland did not.
Outstanding defence from the Welsh also paved the way to victory with Luke Charteris and talismanic Sam Warburton immense in the tackle - frustrating the Irish as a solid red wall kept them out.
Man of the match: Wales captain Sam Warburton excelled in the loose and centre Jamie Roberts stood out as a midfield battering ram, but we felt Leigh Halfpenny had a blinder at full-back for the Welsh. Cool, calm and collected - Halfpenny was simply sublime.
Donncha Ryan of Ireland is hauled down by Bradley Davies of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Fearless Wales repel Irish battering
Wales's three tries to Ireland's one was a true reflection of the attacking abilities of the two sides, although not of Ireland's first-half dominance of territory and possession at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Three times they shunned early penalty shots at goal to look for tries, but Wales were equal to them.
Ireland had 60 per cent of the territory and 57 per cent of possession in the first half but their bludgeoning and battering of the Wales defence produced a solitary penalty goal after Wales had opened the match with a spectacular Shane Williams winger's try.
Ireland drew level early in the second half when wing Keith Earls somehow managed to keep his feet in play while sliding over in the corner.
But the match turned Wales's way when man-of-the-match Mike Phillips caught Ireland napping down the blindside of a ruck - a trademark of the France-based scrum half's play.
When Wales outside centre Jonathan Davies scored by first eluding some tiring forwards in front of him and then clapping on the pace to outstrip the cover defence, the match - and a place in the semi-finals for the first time since 1987 - was theirs.
Wales had to make 141 tackles in the match and missed only 11, while Ireland made 93 but missed 14. Ireland's lineout also faltered at crucial times, losing three on their own throw.
A majority of the crowd of 35,787 were solidly behind Ireland, but their support was not enough to stave off a fifth defeat in five quarter-final appearances at Rugby World Cups.
with game video:
Alun Wyn Jones (L) and Luke Charteris of Wales tackle Ronan O'Gara of Ireland during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Wales v France