Ireland well off the pace as Grand Slam champions Wales run riot

Alun Wyn Jones says Wales have now put a target on their backs after clinching a deserved Six Nations Grand Slam with a 25-7 win over an ill-disciplined Ireland. AFP  Paul ELLIS

You only have to look back a year and see that England went back-to-back in the championship (in 2016 and 2017) and then ended up fifth.

From there it was all about the boot of Anscombe, the fly-half converting three penalties before the break to send the hosts in 16-0 up at the interval.

Wales have now claimed four Grand Slams in 15 seasons - 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2019 - and they will head to the World Cup six months from now as major title contenders. "At the end of the day, the pitch and conditions are the same for both teams". So they've said to the Six Nations directly, "can it be closed?"' He's stepping down after the Rugby World Cup later this year, when he hopes to collect the biggest trophy yet.

After the restart, Ireland's discipline continued to fail them and Anscombe continued to make them pay, the methodical stand-off going 100% off the tee and kicking the Welsh into an unassailable 25-0 lead.

"We're trying to build those two guys forward".

"If every time that isn't going well and you take them off then I don't think you're growing them back to where they need to be".

Warren Gatland became the first coach to win three Six Nations Grand Slams. AFP  Paul ELLIS
Warren Gatland became the first coach to win three Six Nations Grand Slams. AFP Paul ELLIS

Warren Gatland became the first coach to win three Six Nations Grand Slams.

Ireland received the final say on the roof but Schmidt refused to be drawn on the subject earlier this week, simply insisting his team would cope one way or another.

Ireland will play two World Cup warm-up matches against Wales as part of their tournament preparations, which will also feature matches against Italy and England.

"We've won 23 of our last 26 Test matches, we've finished third in the Six Nations and once upon a time that wasn't the catastrophe that it is today for Ireland", added the head coach.

We arrived there and a lot was said about making it good for spectators and the sprinklers were on for 30 minutes and it was very damp.

'There's been a request from Wales in the interest of the quality of the game and the very poor weather forecast that the roof be closed.

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