Ireland have now won 18 games in a row in Dublin

Ireland are still in the hunt for a second successive Six Nations Grand Slam after a 31-7 bonus-point win over Wales saw them equal England’s record of 12 consecutive championship victories.

The reigning champions went in 17-0 to the good at half-time thanks to tries from Dan Sheehan and James Lowe before Wales hit back and threatened to make a real game of it after an early penalty try in the second half.

Read more: Shocking discipline cripples Wales as they DOUBLE their entire Six Nations 2024 penalty count in one half v Ireland

But Ireland’s quality reigned supreme as further tries for Ciarán Frawley and Tadhg Beirne extended their record winning run at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin to 18 games. They now head to Twickenham in a fortnight, safe in the knowledge that two more wins will see them make history as the first side to pull off back-to-back clean sweeps in the Six Nations era.

For Warren Gatland’s Wales, three defeats on the spin leaves them in danger of a Wooden Spoon shootout at home to Italy on Super Saturday.

Ireland v Wales: As it happened at the Aviva Stadium

Ireland, seeking to keep alive their dreams of becoming the first team to win back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams, were heavy favourites and you could see why in the first half as Andy Farrell’s men completely dominated territory and possession.

Wales were hamstrung by consistent offending, They conceded seven penalties in just 23 minutes and despite some admirable defence – Mike Forshaw would have been particularly pleased with the early nullification of a rampaging rolling maul for example.

However, Ireland persevered, undeterred and after Andrew Porter and Co monstered the Wales scrum, Jack Crowley kicked them into the corner. This time the backs piled in to make it a 13-man maul – reminiscent of Warren Gatland tactics of old and prolific hooker Dan Sheehan scored his ninth try in 24 caps and fourth in this year’s championship.

Munster’s Crowley had his kicking boots on as he slotted a lovely touchline conversion to make it 10-0 to the hosts after 22 minutes. When captain Dafydd Jenkins was penalised for not rolling away by ref Andrea Piardi, the Italian  – the first to take charge of a men’s Six Nations match had had enough and duly warned the 21-year-old about his team’s conduct.

Ireland ran through the phases once again and had an overlap on the left, Calvin Nash managing to get his hands free to tip the ball over the top to Lowe who strolled into the corner for his second in as many games. From a very similar position to his first effort, Crowley, who had got the scoreboard rolling with an early penalty, converted to make it 17-0 heading into half-time.

Wales are no strangers to overturning a half-time deficit after going into 20-0 down at the break against Scotland before a herculean comeback effort fell just short in a 27-26 defeat. On that Saturday, they went further behind after the break but this time they struck first in Dublin,

In the same left-hand corner of the field where Ireland had their success, Wales got a dangerous maul rolling and when Beirne illegally changed his binding he was yellow-carded and Wales handed a penalty try and an immediate foothold back in the game at 17-7.

At that point Ireland might have been worried about another second-half surge but hopes of that faded when replacement Ronan Kelleher’s crucial jackal turnover ended 19 phases of Wales ball.

With that shift in momentum, back came Ireland and Player of the Match Bundee Aki thought he had scored under the posts after a wave of torrential pressure in the 22, only for a Robbie Henshaw knock-on in the build-up to deprive his centre partner.

Not to worry, though, as eventually the pressure told. Wales put hands in the ruck to try and stem the tide but after knocking on the door for several phases, Ireland’s new full-back Ciarán Frawley cut a great line from close range to send Rio Dyer the wrong way and crash over.

That all but sealed the result but there was still time for Ryan Baird to make some eye-catching and equally as lung-busting breaks before getting himself sin-binned for not retreating ten as Wales looked to put some respectability on the scoreline.

That plan came awry when Aaron Wainwright was held up over the line with five minutes left and as is their wont, this ferocious Ireland team did not relent. Beirne had the final say, storming over between weary Welsh defenders as quick ruck ball left them simply unable to cope.

Crowley finished the day flawless off the tee, a 31-7 victory trumping Ireland’s previous biggest winning margin over Wales since Lansdowne Road became the Aviva (23) by a single point.

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