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Ireland 26 Wales 3: Shamrock 'n' roll

Rampant Ireland will go for the Triple Crown against England at Twickenham in two weeks' time after leaving Welsh hopes of achieving an unprecedented RBS 6 Nations title hat-trick hanging by a thread.

Toby Faletau tries to halt Ireland's Cian Healy during the Six Nations match in Dublin            Photograph: EPA
Toby Faletau tries to halt Ireland's Cian Healy during the Six Nations match in Dublin Photograph: EPA

Ireland's emphatic success leaves them with a 100% record after two games, and Wales could have no complaints after being completely outclassed in every key department.

Flanker Chris Henry's first-half try, plus 14 points from the boot of Jonathan Sexton and a late Paddy Jackson touchdown that he also converted, meant midfield talisman Brian O'Driscoll could enjoy a sweet victory against Warren Gatland-coached Wales.

It was seven months ago that 2013 British and Irish Lions boss Gatland controversially dropped O'Driscoll for a Test series decider against Australia in Sydney. The Lions won 41-16, but there was no dream script for Gatland this time.

His ineffective team never threatened Irish dominance, with Leigh Halfpenny's second-half penalty their only scoring contribution on an afternoon when the Irish forwards built an imposing victory platform.

Wales, despite fielding several of Gatland's Test Lions, had no answer to Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony, who emphatically bossed the breakdown.

Their control probably deserved an even bigger margin of victory, and there is no doubt new coach Joe Schmidt has made his mark with players who look refreshed and reinvigorated.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell was delighted with the result. He said: "We knew it was going to be really tough, but we would have been disappointed if we weren't two wins out of two at home, so it gets a lot harder from here on."

The Munster lock added: "Our discipline was excellent and Johnny Sexton's kicking was excellent. That kept a lot of pressure on Wales. I'm very surprised by the result, but it's a very good one for us."

Ireland settled early and went ahead through an eighth-minute Sexton penalty as the breakdown area lived up to expectations with both teams contesting it fiercely, but it proved just as physical in midfield, with O'Driscoll laid low by a Scott Williams tackle.

O'Driscoll resumed following a short delay, but Gethin Williams was not so fortunate, departing after 17 minutes with shoulder trouble just before Sexton kicked his second penalty for a 6-0 advantage. Ireland continued to enjoy the better of the close-quarter exchanges, and wing Andrew Trimble almost broke the try deadlock 12 minutes before half time through a weaving run that Wales frantically, but successfully, defended.

The action was fast and furious, yet Wales' set-piece struggles had to have an impact at some stage, and Ireland duly punished them through a 32nd-minute try.

Lock Devin Toner won a close-range line-out, and an irresistable drive ended with Henry claiming his first Test try. Sexton added the conversion, and Wales found themselves desperately needing half time to arrive so they could regroup. There was no sign of Ireland letting up, though, as they continued to win most 50-50 scraps for the ball, leaving Wales facing an uphill second-half struggle against a side that were the only team to defeat them in last season's Six Nations.

Sexton got the second half score- board moving through an angled penalty, leaving Wales 16 points adrift and facing a first Six Nations away defeat since March 2011. Halfpenny then opened Wales' account with his first shot at goal after 56 minutes, yet that was quickly cancelled out through another Sexton strike, ensuring Ireland maintained a comfortable lead entering the final quarter.

Ireland confirmed their title credentials with Jackson's converted 79th-minute touchdown. England now stand between them and a Triple Crown, but it is back to the drawing board for Wales ahead of hosting France in 13 days' time, when a win would keep them in the title mix, but defeat will leaving them staring at mid-table mediocrity.

Skipper Sam Warburton, however, has not given up hope of retaining the title. He said: "We won the championship last time with four wins and that's still achievable this year. There's not much you can say after a defeat like that, but we'll use that as fuel for the next game."

Ireland: R Kearney, Trimble (McFadden 62), O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, D Kearney, Sexton (Jackson for Sexton 75), Murray, Healy (McGrath for Healy 68), Best (Cronin for Best 73), Ross, Toner, O'Connell, O'Mahony, Henry, Heaslip.

Wales: Halfpenny, Cuthbert, S Williams (L Williams 18), Roberts, North, Priestland, M Phillips, Jenkins (James 71), Hibbard (Owens 62), A Jones (R Jones 62), Coombs (Ball 71), A Jones, Lydiate (Tipuric 72), Warburton, Faletau.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).

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