Wales secured their third Grand Slam under the stewardship of Warren Gatland following an outstanding 25-7 triumph over Ireland at the Principality Stadium.
Saving their best performance for the final game, they were magnificent, opening up an early 7-0 advantage through Hadleigh Parkes’ try, before Gareth Anscombe carried on their good work by kicking three penalties for a 16-0 lead.
In contrast, Joe Schmidt’s team were abysmal. Ill-disciplined and lacking any creativity, they never particularly looked like breaching the hosts’ stout defence. Instead, it was the Welsh that looked assured in difficult conditions and Anscombe added three more three-pointers to complete a wonderful campaign.
Their winning streak now stands at 14 and it was the ideal way to mark Gatland’s final Six Nations game in charge, while they have very much put themselves in the World Cup mix.
In their three previous Grand Slam campaigns, Wales have been at home in the final match and they once again used the energy of the crowd to put the visitors under immediate pressure.
Gatland’s outfit were on the front foot in the opening minute, winning a lineout on the opposition 22 and forcing the away side to infringe. From the penalty advantage, Anscombe’s trademark chip over the top was well collected by Parkes and the hosts already held a seven-point buffer.
Ireland immediately looked to respond, testing the Welsh defence with some neat kicks, and Johnny Sexton almost caught them out by finding Jacob Stockdale out wide. However, that man Parkes, who has been outstanding over the past couple of games, was aware of the danger and put last season’s championship top-scorer into touch.
Buoyed by the centre’s superb effort, Wales upped the intensity once more and another Irish infringement allowed Anscombe to make it 10-0.
Schmidt’s men were struggling and they were evidently rattled. As a result, they continued to make mistakes and the hosts’ kicker was on hand to punish any indiscretion, moving them 16-0 ahead at the interval.
Even at half-time, the champagne was on ice and it got even better for Gatland’s charges as Anscombe extended their lead at the start of the second period.
It was a brilliant display in tough conditions and Ireland had no answer to their opponents’ excellence. Although it may not have been pretty, the weather dictated that and the forwards did their jobs superbly, regularly forcing the visitors into reverse.
They duly gave Anscombe opportunities off the tee and the Cardiff Blues man was in no mood to miss, adding two more for an insurmountable lead.
Ireland battled to get something from the contest and Jordan Larmour did go over, but it didn’t dampen Wales’ spirits, who never faltered and deservedly claimed another Grand Slam under Gatland.
Pens: Anscombe 6
|March 16, 2019||16:35||Guinness Six Nations||Guinness Six Nations 2019||80'|
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