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Wales win 2019 Six Nations Grand Slam with convincing win over Ireland

Credit: PA

Wales launched their bid for a third Grand Slam under boss Warren Gatland by naming an unchanged match squad to host Ireland in Cardiff.

Liam Williams recovered from a stinger neck injury to start at the Principality Stadium, in head coach Gatland's last Guinness Six Nations match as Wales boss.

Tadhg Beirne made his Six Nations debut for Ireland, with Rob Kearney and Sean O'Brien slotting into Joe Schmidt's starting line-up.

It took Grand Slam-chasing Wales less than two minutes to cross for their first try. Gareth Anscombe's perfectly-weighted kick over the Ireland defence was taken by Hadleigh Parkes who had the simple task of finishing the move.

The try was converted to give Wales a 7-0 lead and the dream start in Cardiff.

Credit: PA

Parkes followed up his early try by pulling off a try-saving tackle on the marauding Jacob Stockdale to cement that early advantage.

George North departed due to injury in a blow to the hosts however, with Dan Biggar joining the fray at fly-half, Anscombe moving to full-back and Liam Williams to the wing.

Anscombe landed a long-range penalty to stretch Wales' lead to 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Ireland failed to master the conditions, with the driving rain causing the visitors more problems than the composed hosts.

Ireland's decision to leave the Principality Stadium roof open appeared to backfire significantly therefore, with Gatland's men never looking likely to relinquish control.

Anscombe's excellent afternoon continued with two more expertly-struck penalties to put the home side in total control at 16-0 at the break.

Anscombe's fourth penalty pushed Wales into an even more commanding position to kick-start the second half.

And when Sexton punted the restart out on the full, it appeared Wales' glory march was almost nailed on with half an hour to go.

CJ Stander was pinged for not rolling away in yet another poor penalty concession from Ireland, and once again Anscombe booted the points to twist the knife.

Wales' 22-0 lead on the hour proved fully justified reward for their complete dominance.

The final quarter proved precious more than a victory procession, as Ireland did little besides hope the ground would swallow them up.

Anscombe's sixth penalty heaped on more misery for the wretched Irish, while Wales revelled in their supremacy.

Ireland pushed hard at the death, and in added time Jordan Larmour crossed - for the visitors to avoid being beaten to nil for the first time since 2012.

Jack Carty converted, but the consolation did little to spare Irish blushes.

Wales sealed their Grand Slam victory with what was a resounding 25-7 win.

Alun Wyn Jones believes there is still more to come from Wales.

Credit: PA

Jones told BBC: "I'm just proud of the group of guys and the backroom staff right now. It's a bit of a milestone for a lot of the staff in particular.

"Anything can happen when you work hard and we're a proud nation and I think we've shown that over the last nine weeks.

"It's more than self belief, there's character at times. We're not going to shy away at times we've been pretty unconvincing at times. So we'd like to think there's still more potential in us.

"But we've got to be aware we've just put a massive target on our backs."

The captain paid tribute to calm nature of Gatland in leading them to glory.

Jones added: "He's the man at the top. He's always been unwavering and unflappable. It's easy to say that now on the back of the win.

"He's got a bit left on his contract but I'm sure we'll miss him when he's eventually gone."

Gatland became the first coach to win three grand slams but insists the credit should go to the players.

He said: "I'm proud of the players. It's not about me it's about those players.

"We spoke about them playing for themselves and their families and this crowd.

"And being able to create a bit of history. You can never take that away from them now."