Jacob Stockdale made history as rampant Ireland rubbed salt into England’s wounds with a 24-15 victory at Twickenham to seal a Six Nations Grand Slam on St Patrick’s Day.
Eddie Jones this week apologised after a video emerged of him vowing England would avenge a final-day defeat to the “scummy Irish” that dashed their bid for back-to-back Grand Slams 12 months ago.
Ireland let their rugby do the talking in the London snow on Saturday to complete only their third ever clean sweep, lethal wing Stockdale becoming the first player to score seven tries in a single Six Nations campaign.
Joe Schmidt’s men, outstanding in attack and defence, showed the ruthlessness that enabled them to wrap up the title last weekend, with Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Stockdale going over in the first half.
A try in each half from Elliot Daly and a late Jonny May consolation was all the much-changed 2016 and 2017 champions England could muster as they suffered a first home loss under Jones and a third consecutive defeat.
Ireland, on the other hand, have now won 12 in a row and the celebrations will continue long into the night six weeks after Jonathan Sexton came to the rescue with a last-gasp drop-goal against France in Paris.
— NatWest 6 Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 17, 2018
England, smarting from back-to-back defeats to Scotland and France, started with the bit between their teeth, but it was Ireland who drew first blood when Anthony Watson spilled a towering kick from Sexton and the alert Ringrose dotted down only five minutes in.
Sexton struck the post with a penalty, but soon added his second conversion as the newly-crowned champions strengthened their grip on proceedings, Bundee Aki bursting through a gap before the supporting Stander crashed into the base of the post for a five-pointer.
Aki appeared fortunate to escape without a yellow card for a tackle on Daly before Peter O’Mahony was sin-binned for bringing down a driving maul with Ireland up against it.
England’s persistence paid off nine minutes before the break, the pacy Daly finishing after racing onto a clever kick from Owen Farrell, who was unable to add the extras as Watson was withdrawn due to a shoulder injury.
Ireland might have been content to bring the half to an end with ball in hand and the clock red, but they were rewarded for their ambition when the rapid Stockdale chased onto his own kick and touched down after the ball bounced off his knee, Joey Carbery converting with Sexton off for a head injury assessment.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) March 17, 2018
England knocked on the door early in the second half without reward, a resolute Ireland defence standing firm before Conor Murray stepped up to give them a 19-point lead from the tee despite Sexton being cleared to return.
The holders looked short of ideas until Daly took a superb one-handed offload from Mike Brown to round off a well-worked move 15 minutes from time, Farrell again unable to convert.
Carbery was off target with a subsequent penalty and although May went over in the corner right at the end, the game had long since been won on a famous day for Irish rugby.
Key Opta Stats:
– Ireland have completed the Grand Slam for just the third time in their history, having previously done so in 1948 and 2009.
– Jacob Stockdale became the first player to score seven tries in a Six Nations campaign; only Cyril Lowe (8 in 1914) and Ian Smith (8 in 1925) have scored as many in championship history.
– Ireland ended England’s run of 15 consecutive home wins, while they also extended their own record winning run to 12 consecutive matches.
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta