CARDIFF: Wales hammered Ireland 25-7 on Saturday to claim a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2012, Gareth Anscombe bagging a record haul for a Welshman in the fixture of 20 points in an unexpectedly one-sided clash at the Principality Stadium.
The hotly anticipated match between the pre-tournament favourites Ireland and form team Wales never looked close, as Anscombe punished a stream of Irish infringements with his goal kicking in the swirling rain.
Welsh centre Hadleigh Parkes scored his side's only try after barely 80 seconds had been played, collecting a deft Anscombe chip, while Ireland's Jordan Larmour left it until the final minute to bag an opening score that would have been scant consolation.
"It's hard to put into words," Anscombe said. "Obviously we just have a habit of winning. ..it's a special group and we work very hard for each other.
"Of course we felt pressure but we wanted to enjoy it."
The Welsh win leaves England unable to catch up even if they beat Scotland later on Saturday, and will stoke hopes of a serious Wales tilt at this year's Rugby World Cup, which kicks off in Japan in September.
Ireland captain Rory Best said the poor start had hurt his side, adding: "We just couldn't get a footing in the game. Our set-piece wasn't up to the standard we expect.
"We have to go away and address why we lost... We have been a little bit inconsistent in this Championship... it's very disappointing."
It is Wales's fourth Grand Slam of the Six Nations era and the third won under coach Warren Gatland, who is leaving his post after the World Cup.
(Reporting By Lawrence White; editing by Tony Lawrence)