IRELAND ruined Warren Gatland’s return with a bonus-point win in Cardiff.
Andy Farrell’s side underlined their Six Nations title credentials with a comfortable victory secured by converted tries by Caelan Doris, James Ryan, James Lowe and Josh van der Flier with Johnny Sexton also converting two penalties.
The visitors loosened their grip on the match in the second half but never looked in serious trouble against a home side which are a shadow of some of the teams Gatland assembled in his first spell in charge.
Ireland – who had not won here in the Championship since 2013 – were in command of this game within nine minutes of kick-off.
There were little more than two minutes elapsed before they went ahead following a lineout. Ryan made good ground off Sexton’s pass.
Murray recycled to Doris who burst through Liam Williams’ tackle to touch down. Sexton converted.
Then, from a tap and go penalty, Finlay Bealham picked up the ball at the bottom of a ruck and passed to Ryan who was helped over the line by his second-row partner Tadhg Beirne. Again, the Ireland captain added the extras.
Wales had a glorious chance to get back into the game when a Tomas Francis tackle forced Sexton to spill the ball. Rio Dyer kicked through but Hugo Keenan showed great pace to get their ahead of him.
Wales eventually got on the scoreboard through a Dan Biggar penalty but Sexton restored the 14-point advantage off the tee.
And they raced further ahead when, just outside his own 22, Lowe intercepted a Biggar pass meant for Williams. Sexton maintained his 100 percent record with the conversion and a later penalty.
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Ireland did have to defend at times in the first half with Garry Ringrose bringing down Biggar before Lowe joined in to win a turnover penalty.
And later Andrew Porter did well to get his body under the ball to prevent what looked like a certain try for Jac Morgan.
But there were chances that went abegging at the other end with Doris spilling when tackled by Justin Tipuric and Ken Owens.
BRIEF WALES IMPROVEMENT
It was hard to imagine that Ireland would be so dominant and Wales so poor in the second half and, sure enough, the match took on a different life.
In the 46th minute, Williams exploited a gap to touch down. Porter’s late tackle on him was needless and resulted in a penalty from the restart after Biggar had converted.
And the sense that Ireland were losing their discipline was not helped by the replacements.
Iain Henderson clattered into Williams after a poor attempted charge-down but only a penalty was awarded.
Then, Bundee Aki was penalised for a tackle off the ball but Ireland were not the only side falling foul of the referee with Williams sin-binned for a high tackle on Sexton in the 65th minute.
That ended whatever feint hope the hosts had of producing a barnstorming finish but, although Ireland had let their standards slip, they never looked like they would let the victory squirm out of their grasp.
And they ended 45 minutes without a score when van der Flier sauntered over the line after they had gone through the phases with replacement Ross Byrne converting.
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WALES: Try: L Williams; Conversion: Biggar; Penalty: Biggar
IRELAND: Tries: Doris, Ryan, Lowe, van der Flier; Conversions: Sexton 3, Byrne 1; Penalties: Sexton 2
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