The Irish scored five tries all through forwards Paul O'Connell twice, Alan Quinlan, David Wallace, and Malcolm O'Kelly. David Humphreys added the extra points to four of the tries before limping off with a leg injury with Geordan Murlphy also adding a conversion.
Wales replied with tries from both their wingers Gareth Thomas and Garan Evans with Iestyn Harris adding a conversion. Ireland were expected to romp home without too much trouble, but Wales provided a much more stern opposition than expected. However, for the first game of the season, both coaches will be happy with some aspects of their side's performance with Eddie O'Sullivan likely to be the happier.
Ireland looked set for a big score when they opening their account in the fifth minute when lock O'Connell powered over after some excellent open continuity play. However, Wales stunned a lackadaisical Irish when they stole a line-out and had numbers wide to enable skipper Thomas to touch down on the right. That shook Ireland up a little, but intense Welsh tackling held their line intact until the 29th minute.
Once again the hard work was done by the pack, and this time it was flanker Quinlan, a late replacement for Victor Costello, who crashed over at the posts with Humphreys again converting. Wales, despite down to 14 men when Iestyn Harris was yellow carded for a fairly innocuous high tackle on Anthony Horgan, kept their line intact with some excellent defensive work.
But two tries immediately on the restart put Ireland firmly in the driving seat. Both touchdowns came from attacks from deep with first Wallace starting and finishing a movement in the 41st minute. Wallace was playing his first game for over a season, and was a half-time replacement for the injured Anthony Foley.
Three minutes later a break by Murphy carried on by Humphreys set up Malcolm O'Kelly to thunder over at the posts for Ireland's fourth converted try. Wales did look dangerous when their backs got a little space, but the Irish defence was equally alert to stifle out danger. But the game drifted into a type of training spin later in the second half as both coaches ran their replacement benches.
But Wales did look the more dangerous and scored a superb try when a break up the left wing saw debutant Nicky Robinson put in a neat kick over the Irish defence for Evans to collect and easily score. Ireland had the final say of the game two minutes from the end when after a line-out, O'Connell charged over for his second try, and virtually booked his place on the flight to Australia.
Ireland: G Murphy; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, K Maggs, A Horgan; D Humphreys, P Stringer; R Corrigan, K Wood, capt, S Best, M O'Kelly, P O'Connell, A Quinlan, A Foley, K Gleeson. Replacements: J Fitzpatrick, S Byrne, D O'Callaghan, D Wallace, G Easterby, G D'Arcy, G Dempsey.
Wales: N Robinson; G Evans, J Robinson, I Harris, G Thomas, capt; C Sweeney, D Peel; D Jones, M Davies, B Evans, M Owen, G Llewellyn, R Oakley, R Parks, A Popham. Replacements: H Bennett, G Jenkins, V Cooper, R Sowden-Taylor, A Williams, A Marinos, N Brew.
Referee: Joel Dumé (France).