Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Sexton savours Irish Six Nations title win

Sexton savours Irish Six Nations title win

JOHNNY SEXTON has urged his Ireland team-mates to upgrade their Six Nations title to a Grand Slam.

England fall to a 22-16 defeat at the hands of France in Paris, a result which sees Ireland claim the Six Nations championship with a game to spare.

Ulster winger Andrew Trimble also noted the expectation from the fans and players, something that hasn't always been there in recent seasons, and commended the players and fans for keeping calm ahead of the England test despite winning our third championship in five years. I was a bit alarmed how everybody was trying to play down the need to win with four tries to stay in contention for the tournament after Ireland's excellent win over Scotland earlier.

Back-to-back champions England were on course, of course, for their own five-in-row before shuddering to a halt in Murrayfield and then losing all title hopes in Paris.

It was the Tricolors' first win over England in four years in the championship, and a welcome respite.

"The Six Nations is an unforgiving arena and they now face a rampant Ireland, gunning for the Grand Slam on St Patrick's Day at Twickenham".

"We're going to have to save the best for last, and that's what it's going to take to win everything next week", Ireland captain Rory Best said.

'Everyone knows the size of the challenge. Eddie Jones should consider his side's vulnerability at the breakdown, and to a high penalty count, a known issue that needs remedy.

The 28-8 win over Scotland yesterday provided the latest evidence of some of Schmidt's coaching qualities.

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"I told them that if we won it would open up new and positive things".

At the same time, England beat Italy in Rome with a bonus-point and Wales did likewise at home over Scotland, placing Ireland third in the table at that point. However, the throw-in wasn't caught.

However, when the mobile Sam Simmonds came on, known for his work rate, the problems remained - after all, rucking has for decades now been for all players one to 15. I thought Rob Kearney did very well when Stuart Hogg was about to pass as he stepped back.

Scotland bore more gifts for the hosts. Jones drew last-man Sexton but passed too far in front of Hogg.

Or take Garry Ringrose's big linebreak from an earlier scrum - again, a delightful Schmidt move saw Ireland first attack to the left before suddenly switching across to the right through Bundee Aki.

Scotland missed 13 tackles in the first half, and looked outclassed after the new half began and an Irish lineout drive to the try-line finished with scrumhalf Conor Murray barging over with a push from Aki.

"It's a very big moment, it's a big emotion to beat England".

That series in South Africa in 2016 was one that Ireland could and probably should have won, but overall it's hard to argue against the suggestion that Schmidt has been an excellent head coach for Ireland.

"We are going to have to save the best till last".

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