Johnny Sexton kicked a penalty six minutes from time to preserve injury-hit Ireland’s unbeaten RBS 6 Nations home record under Joe Schmidt and stall Wales’ stirring fightback.
The kick secured a 16-16 draw - the first between Ireland and Wales since 1991 - meaning that both sides’ Grand Slam hopes floundered at the first hurdle.
Yet they played with such fearsome commitment and intensity to still suggest strong title ambitions.
Ireland led 13-0 at the Aviva Stadium after 30 minutes through scrum-half Conor Murray’s try and eight points from Sexton, but Wales hit back through a Taulupe Faletau touchdown, plus three Rhys Priestland penalties and a conversion after he replaced injured World Cup hero Dan Biggar.
Wales led by three points with time running out, but Sexton - as he has done on so many previous occasions - came up trumps when it mattered and ensured that Ireland avoided defeat.