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Win proves satisfying for Warburton

Captain Sam Warburton hailed spoiling Ireland's Grand Slam hopes as among his best moments in Test rugby after Wales' stubborn 23-16 victory in Cardiff.

Samson Lee could miss the rest of the tournament with an Achilles tendon injury, but Wales boss Warren Gatland is holding out hope the prop has not suffered a full tear.

Wales could yet claim the RBS 6 Nations title with a hefty victory over Italy in Rome next weekend but must do so without Gethin Jenkins, who suffered a hamstring problem.

Lock Luke Charteris made a startling 37 tackles as Wales thumped themselves and Ireland into a standstill: Warburton made 30 tackles himself in his record 34th Test as Wales skipper.

"That was as satisfying as the win we had against South Africa in the autumn, England in 2013 and probably the quarter-final against Ireland in 2011," said Warburton.

"And that's because Ireland are that good: they had won 10 in a row and they are third in the world.

"So we knew it had to be one of our very best performances that we've had to get a win today.

"They were chasing a Grand Slam and they had all the motivation in the world as well.

"I was on the floor at the end of the game, I looked up and I saw (referee) Wayne Barnes' arm rise for our side, and I just punched the air on the floor.

"It's one of the best feelings I've ever had in a Wales shirt so I'm extremely happy with that.

"The reason we made that many tackles was because Ireland kept the ball extremely well.

"Particularly in the second half, they just kept coming and went so many phases and defensive sets; the second half was probably one of the most exhausted I've been ever in an international match.

"And the players were still talking to get up on your feet, the attitude and defensive effort was second to none.

"Shaun (Edwards) has gone into detail in the week to cover their trick plays and what they do in attack. The boys took on all that information and detail and it definitely paid off.

"Certain matches you can tell the players are extremely focused. You could tell it was one of those days where everyone was so desperate to get the result, going down to breakfast today, s o it was so satisfying to get that in the end."

Gatland admitted experienced prop Jenkins will "probably" miss the trip to Rome next weekend, with young props Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis now likely to be pressed into service from the off.

Wales' Kiwi boss continues to hold out hope that Scarlets tighthead Lee's Achilles injury is not a long-term problem.

Should the 22-year-old end up with a lengthy spell on the sidelines, thoughts could inevitably turn to a recall for Cardiff Blues' British and Irish Lion Adam Jones, who retired from Test rugby in January.

"Samson's got an Achilles injury, we're going to get him seen later on or tomorrow," said Gatland.

"We had to get Gethin through a tight calf before the game and then after about 10 minutes he pulled his hamstring.

"So we'd lost Samson and we knew we couldn't get 80 minutes out of Gethin then either, so for him to dig deep and get through to half-time showed a lot about him and the character of this team.

"The initial thoughts on Samson are not great, I'm not a medic but it doesn't look good.

"We're only speculating at the moment so hopefully it's not a full rupture, which would potentially be long-term and World Cup stuff.

"So we've got to wait until he's been scanned and checked out and then we can start trying to get him right again."

Dejected head coach Joe Schmidt insisted "it's not back to the drawing board" for Ireland, who suffered their first defeat in 11 matches.

The former New Zealand schoolteacher admitted Wales beat Ireland at their own game, dominating the tactical kicking battle that has been such a strength for Schmidt's side.

"Yeah; it's funny there wasn't really that much tempo earlier in the game," said Schmidt when asked if Wales adopted Ireland-style tactics in victory.

"The tempo came into the game in the second quarter.

"They won the first four balls in the air, so they did really well.

"And I don't think you can take anything away from Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts in the way that they did that.

"The strategy was the same as it has been for the last few weeks: and it's not back to the drawing board for us.

"I think if you start to throw the baby out with the bathwater, it's pretty hard to start all over again."

Former Leinster boss Schmidt did, however, admit "concern" with Ireland's failure to convert 64 per cent possession and 66 per cent territory into any tries.

"I think there is concern: we went out with a plan in the second half expecting to accumulate points if we played and won a number of penalties," said Schmidt.

"But the penalties didn't come in the second half, so we didn't achieve anything with that strategy, apart from some really good play."


From Belfast Telegraph