Despite failing to make the quarter finals, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup must be regarded as a success for Ireland who defeated Wales 34-6 on a red hot afternoon in Perth.
It was the Wolfhounds’ second win in three group stage matches with their only defeat coming against PNG last weekend, where they were edged out in the final stages.
Coming into this game as big favourites, Ireland dominated field position early on and opened the scoring when Michael McIlorum showed his class by breaking through from dummy half and feeding Api Pewhairangi to score.
It was a first quarter dominated by mistakes as both sides struggled in the heat, with Wales going close to grabbing their first try but Regan Grace put a foot in touch as he was grounding the ball.
The Wolfhounds finally added to their lead on the half hour when Oliver Roberts, who replaced the injured Joe Keyes, made an instant impact from the bench as he powered over from close range.
Ireland asserted their dominance further when another interchange, Joe Philbin, scored moments later, showing sheer determination to power through and ground the ball from 10 metres out.
And there was still time for captain Liam Finn to get over before half-time, with the half-back’s three first-half conversions taking his points tally to 10, as Ireland led 24-0 at the break.
Wales were much improved after the restart and as the game approached the hour they got on the scoreboard; Josh Ralph supplying Ben Morris with a superb pass to score.
But from here Ireland took control again and after been denied his second by the video referee moments earlier, the impressive Roberts did get a try-scoring double with 12 minutes to play as he again powered over from 10 metres out.
And the Irish rounded off their superb World Cup campaign in style with five to play as Finn, Scott Grix and Pewhairangi combined to put Liam Kay over in the corner.
Finn converted from the touchline to make the final score 34-6 to the Wolfhounds who can hold their heads high despite failing to make the quarter finals.
Wales: Kear, Williams, Channing, Morris, Grace, Davies, Ralph, Kopczak, Parry, Evans, Knowles, Fozard, Joseph. Interchange: Lloyd, Burke, Bennion, Gay.
Ireland: Grix, McDonnell, Chamberlain, Pewhairangi, Kay, Keyes, Finn, Mullally, McIlorum, Amor, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Hope, Singleton. Interchange: King, Hadden, Philbin, Roberts.
Credit: NRL Photos