International Roundup

It was Grand Slam glory for Wales on the weekend, with the magnificent seven all in action along with 9 Ospreys Women and 4 U20s.

Wales delivered a flawless performance to crush Ireland en route to the Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam.

Wales’ most successful coach, Warren Gatland, now has three Guinness Six Nations clean sweeps under his belt after his players put their bodies on the line to extend their record unbeaten run to 14 matches.

Ireland had no answer for the irrepressible Gareth Anscombe at outside-half and the sheer force of a pack that refused to take a backward step.

Anscombe setup Hadleigh Parkes’ opening try with a flash of sheer skill as the Scarlets centre raced through to collect his delicate outside of the foot chip.

From that moment he shouldered the responsibility of kicking Wales to Grand Slam glory, adding 20 points from the boot to end a six year wait for the title whilst sending out a statement of intent in a Rugby World Cup year.

Alun Wyn Jones, who was making his own slice of history by equalling Gethin Jenkins’ all-time cap record, led his troops through the fire and into the simmering Principality Stadium cauldron.

Gatland’s men piled on the pressure and went in at the break with a 16-0 lead.  

Jordan Lamour crossed for Ireland right at the death, but nothing can takeaway from the immense Welsh performance that sealed the Grand Slam.


Wales Women

Wales Women saved their best for last as they picked-up a bonus-point 24-5 win over Ireland to make it two wins in a row and move into fourth place in the championship table. It was the first time since 2011 that Wales had beaten the Irish in the Six Nations and it meant they leapfrogged them in the table. It was a victory built on magnificent defence, a ruthless scrum and pace on the wings.

There were early signs of dominance from the Welsh front five with some big scrums and by the end of the game they picked up seven penalties in that area. But it was the Irish who scored first when Parsons made up for her earlier disappointment to go in on an overlap in the 15th minute.

If that was nothing less than they deserved, they were forced to play second fiddle on the scoreboard for the rest of the game after Wales levelled with a great try on the left by flying wing Jess Kavanagh. Some good hands from player of the match Alisha Butchers and Lleucu George gave her the chance to show off some fancy footwork before turning on the gas to speed 30 metres to score.

Wales lost back row dynamo Siwan Lillicrap to the sin-bin for a neck high tackle midway through the first-half, but she returned just in time to join an attacking line-out after Wales had kicked to the corner after another scrum penalty.

The ball was won and the driving maul ended with skipper Carys Phillips claiming the try. George stepped up to kick the conversion and Wales were good value for the 12-5 interval lead.

In the second half , Wales were made to work had and eventually they broke clear of their half and managed to mount some pressure of their own. That led to a try for Dragons flanker Beth Lewis from a metre out and the George conversion gave the home side a 14 point lead.

Wales sealed a bonus-point at the death after Manon Johnes turned over Irish possession and George release Jazz Joyce on the right wing for the final try of the game.


Wales U20s

Wales surrendered a 10 point lead as Ireland staged a brilliant fightback to twice come from behind to complete their second Six Nations Under 20 Grand Slam with a 26-17 win in Colwyn Bay.

An 11th minute try from Dragons centre Aneurin Owen gave Wales the perfect start as they attempted to become the first team to lower the colours of an Irish side that had already won the title. Cai Evans added the conversion and then kicked a penalty from two minutes inside the Irish half.

That made it 10-0 after 28 minutes, but a try on the stroke of half-time from Irish wing Jonathan Wren put the game back into the melting pot. Wales prop Ben Warren lost the ball in the Irish 22 and a brilliant, high speed break out by Ulster wing Angus Kernohan took the visitors up to the home 22.

Good passing then gave flanker Scott Penny the chance to put opposite wing Wren over a try that outside half Ben Healy converted to make it a three point game at the break.


But they finally hit the front seven minutes after the re-start with a try from hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin, with his fifth score of the campaign, after he simply picked up the ball from a maul that had ended and drove over from 10 metres out. Healey converted and that gave the Grand Slam seekers a four point lead.

On the hour Wales hit back after a decisive break from replacement wing Ryan Conbeer. He weaved his way from half-way into the Irish 22 and then passed inside to the rampaging flanker Jac Morgan, who raced to score between the posts.

Evans added the simple conversion and Wales were back in front once again.

But the Irish answered back and grabbed two more tries to complete their Grand Slam with a bonus point. Replacement scrum half Colm Riley scampered over from the 10 metre line after surprising everyone with a pick and go from a ruck and then tight head prop Tom Clarkson touched down by reaching over a ruck on the Welsh line with the last move of the match.

The conversion was added by Jake Flannery and that was the final seal on a great season for the Irish.