Ireland's Joe Schmidt concedes Six Nations title after defeat in Wales

Winger George North bounced back from criticism from his own camp to crash over the try line twice as Wales beat Ireland 22-9 in a bruising Six Nations clash in Cardiff that restored home pride after two successive defeats.

Ireland will attempt to set up an audacious bid for Six Nations glory over frontrunners England when they face Wales on Friday.

"I'm just very proud of the players", Wales interim coach Howley said. We wanted an 80-minute performance.

"We feel we should have beaten England out here", he added of last month's 21-16 loss.

Wales failed to score a point in the second half in Scotland and managed only three against England.

"We owe a lot to the coaches, but they've backed our ability and we certainly showed what we can do and there's certainly a lot more to come from us".

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Welsh newspaper The Western Mail rated North as 9/10, beating even official man-of-the-match Rhys Webb in their player rankings.

A brace of scores took North's worldwide tally to 30 tries in 68 Tests, fourth in an all-time Wales try scorers' list led by Shane Williams on 58, followed by Gareth Thomas, 40, and Ieuan Evans, 33.

"George is a world-class global player", said Howley.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in the Scotland game, and I didn't get going at all", said the 24-year-old who has won 68 caps since making his debut in 2010 and also picked up three caps for the British and Irish Lions on their winning tour to Australia in 2013.

"And I'm sure he's highly motivated to have a really good game, as are the rest of the Welsh XV".

"He showed ambition, he had a number of touches and when he gets five metres out, he's very hard to stop".

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"His ambition and intent was impressive and his try in the second half down the short-side was very smart play".

"We want him on the ball as often as possible and Liam Williams on the other side made some important tackles as well".

The players have been outstanding since the Scotland game.

"France have improved hugely in this Six Nations so we know the threat they pose", he said.

Ireland were also risky with ball in hand, and Calvin Nash, Tadgh McElroy and Paul Boyle scored tries as the visitors clawed their way back from 14 points down to set up that grandstand finish.

Halfpenny's simple penalty made it 8-6, ending a gripping 40 minutes that enthralled a capacity 74,000 crowd, and Wales increased their lead four minutes into the second period whenthe forwards drove relentlessly before Webb sent an unmarked North over again.

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