Ireland overpower England to seal Grand Slam


Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Ireland sealed just their third Grand Slam of all-time with a 24-15 win against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Some 70 years to the week since they completed their first Slam in the old Five Nations, Ireland had another, having also swept all before them in the 2009 Six Nations.

Ireland's forwards repeatedly forced turnovers against a new-look England pack and they all but had the game wrapped up when they led 21-5 at half-time.

Ireland put themselves in sight of St Patrick's Day glory in the opening 40 minutes thanks to converted tries from Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Jacob Stockdale to one unconverted try from England's Elliot Daly.

Conor Murray's penalty on the hour-mark nudged Ireland, who kicked off having already won the Six Nations title, further in front at a cold and snowy Twickenham.

Daly scored his second try of the match in the 65th minute and fellow wing Jonny May went over deep into stoppage time but it was not enough to deny Ireland a first win at Twickenham since 2010.

"Words can't describe how delighted we are with that win but also the Grand Slam," Ireland captain Rory Best told ITV. "It was all about this game and all about the Grand Slam.

"The statement for us was to make sure we won something big and ultimately in this, what turned out to be a cup final for us, to show what we're made of," the hooker added.

Victory saw Ireland extend their national record-winning streak to 12 Tests -- a sequence that started when they denied deposed champions England a Grand Slam in Dublin last year.

By contrast, this result meant England had lost three Six Nations matches in a row for the first time since 2006.

It was also their first Twickenham defeat under Eddie Jones after a run of 14 straight home wins since the Australian coach took over after their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup.

It also represented their first Six Nations loss at home since a 19-12 defeat by Wales six years under Stuart Lancaster, Jones' predecessor.

Ireland kicked off having already secured their third Six Nations title in five years under Kiwi coach Joe Schmidt.

By contrast, England came into the game on the back of successive away defeats by Scotland and France, with Jones making 10 changes to his starting XV following last week's 22-16 loss in Paris.

England dominated territory in the early stages but a late tackle by Owen Farrell, moved from inside centre to fly-half in place of the dropped George Ford, on Ireland fullback Rob Kearney allowed the visitors to kick a relieving penalty.

Ireland won the ensuing line-out and star fly-half Jonathan Sexton hoisted a a huge high kick -- known as a Garryowen after the Irish club that pioneered the tactic -- which was dropped on his own line by England fullback Anthony Watson and Ringrose touched down for a try converted by Sexton, whose last-ditch drop-goal secured Ireland's win over France in their tournament opener.

Ireland made it 14-0 in the 24th minute. Man-of-the-match Tadhg Furlong's fine pass found inside centre Bundee Aki and he burst clear before releasing Stander, with the No 8 forcing his way over from close range.

Aki escaped a yellow card for a high tackle on Daly, referee Angus Garnder awarding just a penalty which England kicked to touch in the hope of a try.

After a couple more England penalties, Ireland flanker Peter O'Mahony was sin-binned for pulling down a ruck only for England to squander a promising position by losing the ensuing line-out on their own throw.

England did capitalise on their man advantage when a clever grubber kick from Owen Farrell, switched to fly-half from centre after Jones dropped George Ford, behind the Irish defence led to a 32nd-minute try for Daly.

But with Watson receiving medical attention in front of him, Farrell missed the conversion.

Deep into first-half stoppage time, impressive wing Stockdale scored his 11th try in just nine Tests when he chipped over the top and won the race to the touchdown under challenge from replacement Mike Brown and Daly.

With Sexton receiving treatment, Joey Carbery converted to give Ireland a commanding 16-point lead.

Sexton returned at the start of the second half but it was half-back colleague Murray who made it 24-5 before Daly beat Keith Earls for a try. Farrell again missed the conversion and his day was summed up when he threw a pass into touch late on.