By Jonathan Davies

2015 - the year of rugby in the UK

Wales kept their hopes of winning the Six Nations alive with a superbly defiant defensive performance against Grand Slam hopefuls Ireland on Saturday.

With the roof open at Wales' call, for the first time under Warren Gatland, the home side ran out 23-16 over and Ireland side who were looking for another win in Cardiff which would've set them up for a Grand Slam deciding tie against Scotland next week.

But the ever reliable boot of Leigh Halfpenny, a try from replacement Scott Williams and one of the most resilient defensive displays in modern memory were enough to cancel out Ireland's penalty-try and Johnny Sexton's point scoring.

There was added spice to the fixture with one Irish pundit saying before the game that Warren Gatland has the intellectucal property of a "tub of a flora", and BBC's Keith Wood predicting a "comfortable" win for Ireland.

Wales stormed to an early 12 point lead in the opening 12 minutes, with referee Wayne Barnes - who is known for favouring the attacking team - penalising Ireland at the breakdown. Wales lost their momentum however when play stopped for treatment to what looked like a nasty injury suffered by prop Samson Lee.

As Ireland built attacking momentum, the penalties started coming their way. And with both sides warned about rolling away at the breakdown, Sam Warburton, who won his record 34th cap as Wales captain, was shown a yellow card. Johnny Sexton was on hand to cut Wales' lead to just six points. Halfpenny added another three for Wales before half-time.

If the first half was tight and even, the second-half was largely one-sided.

Ireland dominated possession and territory, spending more than 30 phases inside or near the Welsh 22. On several occasions the visitors went close to the try-line but were denied by last-ditch tackles. But as Ireland kept pushing for the try, Wales kept knocking them back, and back, and back.

Buoyed by their defensive efforts, Wales transformed into an attacking side and after 14 phases of their own, replacement centre Scott Williams cross the line for the opening try of the match with less than 20 minutes left.

Wales' 11 point lead lasted less than 10 minutes, however. A trademark Ireland driving maul pushed Wales back to their own try-line and Wayne Barnes awarded the penalty try.

With the momentum seemingly building for the visitors, Warburton brilliantly secured a penalty with seven minutes left for Leigh Halpenny to make it 23-16.

Wales were once again reduced to 14 men when Jonathan Davies knocked on from an interception, which was deemed deliberate by the referee.

Ireland piled on the pressure again with the driving mauls from the lineout and scrums. But Wales were awarded a penalty from a scrum on their own five metre line as the clock went dead and the final whistle was met with huge celebration.

Wales' win, coupled with England's victory over Scotland, means its a three-way fight for the Six Nations title next week. Wales, Ireland and England are all on 6 points. However, points difference could be crucial, meaning England and Ireland have a huge advantage over Wales.

England (+37) and Ireland (+33) will know that Wales (+12) will need a much bigger victory against Italy to win the championship.