Ireland cement Six Nations lead

International
AAP
by AAP

Jacob Stockdale took his Test match try tally to eight in seven caps with two scores, while Bundee Aki, Dan Leavy and Cian Healy all crossed as Ireland thumped Wales 37-27.

Gareth Davies, Aaron Shingler and Steff Evans all grabbed tries for the Welsh, but Schmidt's held firm to make it three wins in three in the tournament.

Ireland even shook off Johnny Sexton missing 10 points off the tee, with head coach Schmidt later insisting he merely has a bruised gluteus muscle.

A record-equalling 10th successive Test win now puts Ireland just two wins away from a first grand slam in nine years, with the England clash slated for March 17 at Twickenham.

Joe Schmidt has called on some new faces. Photo: Getty imagesAsked if the Ireland squad can keep any grand slam talk at bay, Schmidt said: "It's a lot easier for us than it is externally because we do live in a bit of a bubble through the championship.

"Every Tuesday the players train then leave and that's when they might be a little more exposed to the hype.

"In the early part of the week we won't get too excited about what we've done because we've got a few things planned for them.

"You'll see them working hard and rolling their sleeves up at the open session next week."

Sexton carried a stiff back into the Wales clash at the Aviva Stadium and emerged at the other end with a bruised backside.

Conor Murray picked up a minor foot problem, but Schmidt insists his British and Irish Lions halfbacks will be fit to face Scotland in Dublin on March 10.

It was a tight tussle in Dublin. Photo: Getty ImagesWales boss Warren Gatland admitted defeat ended any lingering chances of his side chasing the Six Nations title, but insisted they must now fight for a third-place finish.

Asked if two defeats is one too many to challenge for the title, Gatland said: "Yep.

"I think we'd already spoken about an opportunity to see some new players against Italy.

"So with two games left there's chances for that.

"We've got to finish in the top three, that's important for us as well.

"We'll get some players into the squad without making too many changes, and look at building depth."

RESULT

Ireland 37

Tries: Stockdale 2, Aki, Leavy, Healy

Cons: Sexton 2, Carbery

Pens: Sexton, Murray

Wales 27

Tries: Davies, Shingler, S. Evans

Cons: Halfpenny 3

Pens: Halfpenny 2