2018 NatWest Six Nations Championship.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Swami

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    Yes, it is that time of year again, first up tomorrow Wales v Scotland, France v Ireland, then Italy v England on Sunday.

    Here's hoping for Scotland, Ireland and Italy wins!

    Swami
     
  2. Swami

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    Six Nations: Wales 34-7 Scotland
    By Richard Williams


    Six Nations
    Wales (14) 34
    Tries:
    G Davies, Halfpenny (2), S Evans Cons: Halfpenny (4) Pens: Halfpenny (2)
    Scotland (0) 7
    Tries:
    P Horne Cons: Russell
    Wales made a dream start to the 2018 Six Nations as they crushed Scotland in a bonus-point win at the Principality Stadium.

    The home team rocked the much-fancied Scots with early tries by Gareth Davies and Leigh Halfpenny.

    After the break Halfpenny completed a 24-point haul with two penalties and a second try before Steff Evans dived over for the bonus-point try.


    The visitors only managed a 79th minute try through Peter Horne.

    Gatland claimed his 50th win as Wales coach in a match that marked the 10th anniversary of his first match in charge. It was also Wales' 50th win in the expanded Six Nations tournament.

    [​IMG]
    Wales went into the game without six first-choice players because of injury
    Ruthless Wales
    The Scots had travelled in hope after beating Wales for the first time in 10 years in 2017, but were ruthlessly taken apart in the second half.

    The visitors could not break free from a smothering defence as Wales extended their winning home run against them past 16 years.

    Full-back Halfpenny had not scored a Test try in five years and he also nailed six out of six kicks at goal for a personal best tally in a Test match.

    But he was beaten to the man of the match award by flanker Aaron Shingler, who was part of a superb Welsh back row.

    Having dazzled in the autumn series against Australia and New Zealand, Scotland could not get their running game going while Wales confounded predictions with their attacking intent.

    Their power game in the later stages, however, came as no surprise while Scotland paid a heavy price for errors.

    Making light of injuries
    [​IMG]
    Gareth Davies scores the first Wales try
    So much of the talk before the game was about injuries. But Scotland's scrum was not dominated in spite of missing nine front-row players, while Wales made light of missing eight British and Irish Lions.

    And Wales coach Warren Gatland's decision to start with 10 players from one region paid rich dividends as all their points were contributed by Scarlets.

    In reality, after a lightning-fast start, Finn Russell failed to trouble Wales' midfield of Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams and Halfpenny handled the kicks well, sometimes under intense pressure.

    And some of the rugby - particularly in the early stages - left the crowd breathless.

    Flying start
    Scotland could have scored in the first two minutes when Jonny Gray galloped through a gap after Davies' poor touch kick handed them an attacking platform.

    And they still had Wales on the rack when Ali Price's pass was intercepted by the predatory Davies who sprinted 70 metres for the opening try.

    Wales were 12 points ahead in as many minutes when Halfpenny crossed for his first try in 35 Tests, ignoring an unmarked Josh Adams on the right to burst through Huw Jones' tackle on the line.

    [​IMG]
    Jonny Gray, seen here on the run against Wales is the younger brother of Scottish and British and Irish Lion international Richie Gray
    And that followed a let-off for Scotland after Steff Evans dropped a wayward pass five metres from the line after a thrilling move involving Rob Evans, Cory Hill and Alun Wyn Jones.

    Scotland had more possession and territory, with Russell and Hogg counter-attacking dangerously. But a combination of handling errors and turnovers meant they could not manage a score in the first half.

    Halfpenny's two penalties early in the second half killed the game as a contest and when he dived over for his second try, it was a question of how many points Wales would score.

    Evans' acrobatic dive earned Wales first-ever try bonus point in the Six Nations and by the time replacement Horne crossed, Scotland were having to reappraise their Six Nations campaign.

    Man of the match
    [​IMG]
    There were many Wales contenders but Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler shone in his 14th Test for Wales
    What's next?
    Scotland must regroup before they host France at Murrayfield on Sunday, 11 February, while Wales' journey to face reigning champions England in Twickenham on Saturday, 10 February.

    What they said - 'I was expecting it'
    Wales head coach Warren Gatland: "It was an afternoon I was expecting the way we've trained in the week. There was a quiet confidence in the squad.

    "We expected to win and win reasonably comfortably. The chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union asked me yesterday how I thought we'd go and I said I thought we'd win by 20.

    "Apart from a soft try at the end it was a great defensive display and it was great to get the bonus point as well and we can improve again for next week."


    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Six Nations 2018: Warren Gatland had feeling Wales would 'batter' Scotland
    Scotland captain John Barclay on BBC One: "I'm speechless - there were a lot of errors. Today we tried to find the tempo we had in the autumn but couldn't find the accuracy and that's the end result.

    "We'll have a look back but there were too many individual errors and too many missed tackles. Our line-out didn't function all that well and when we got the ball we gave it away.

    "It's hard to find positives, I'm sure there will be some. Wales were superb today and we've got a lot of work to do."

    Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, Williams, Parkes, S Evans; Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (captain), Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.

    Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Francis, B Davies, Tipuric, A Davies, Anscombe, Watkin.

    Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Harris, H Jones, McGuigan; Russell, Price; Reid, McInally, Welsh, Toolis, Gray, Barclay (captain), Watson, du Preez.

    Replacements: Lawson, Bhatti, McCallum, Gilchrist, Wilson, Laidlaw, Horne, Maitland.

    Match officials
    Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

    Touch judges: Romain Poite (France) & Matthew Carley (England)

    TMO: David Grashoff (England)

    Swami
     
  3. Swami

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    Six Nations: France 13-15 Ireland
    By Cian Murtagh


    Six Nations
    France (3) 13
    Try:
    Thomas Con: Belleau Pens: Machenaud 2
    Ireland (9) 15
    Pens:
    Sexton 4 Drop: Sexton
    Ireland snatched a remarkable win over France thanks to a brilliant long-range drop-goal by fly-half Johnny Sexton.

    After the Irish had led for most of the game in Paris, winger Teddy Thomas scored a fine 71st-minute try to give France the lead for the first time.

    However, Sexton pulled off his dramatic drop in the 83rd minute to give Joe Schmidt's side a valuable opening win.


    The incredible last-gasp score denied France a winning start under their new coach Jacques Brunel.

    Sexton landed four penalties before missing his fifth, which would have given the visitors 15-6 lead.

    That failed attempt looked like proving costly when Racing 92 star Thomas scythed through the Irish defence for what seemed like being the decisive score.

    [​IMG]
    Battle of the 10s
    Perhaps it is unfair to compare an uncapped teenager with the British and Irish Lions starting fly-half, but the difference between the sides was crystallised by the fortunes of the two men wearing the number 10 shirts.

    On his Test debut, Matthieu Jalibert lost an early aerial battle with Rob Kearney and minutes later he miscued an attempted chip over the Irish defence to cough up possession.

    The Bordeaux youngster was too frequently guilty of crabbing across the field, which cut off space for his team-mates, before limping off after 30 minutes following an awkward collision with Bundee Aki.

    In contrast, Sexton's control of the Irish attack was flawless.

    The Leinster man consistently probed at the French back three with an array of clever kicks.

    And the playmaker showed nerves of steel to land the match-winning score at the death.

    Teddy's try
    [​IMG]
    Teddy Thomas scored the only try but it wasn't enough for the French as Ireland snatched a late win
    Thomas produced a real moment of magic to put France within seconds of a stunning win.

    With less than 10 minutes left on the clock, the wing struck to put his side into the lead for the first time as Les Bleus appeared to have grabbed an unlikely victory.

    Thomas gathered a clearing kick near the halfway line and sprinted past Kearney on the right wing before swerving in field, leaving Jacob Stockdale, Sexton and Keith Earls in his wake to score under the posts.

    It was the first moment of real genius in the match before Sexton's stunning winner.

    French indiscipline
    When Brunel sits down to review the video of his first game as French national coach, he will see the cost of the indiscipline shown by his players.

    France conceded 10 penalties in total, but all three of Sexton's first-half penalties were relatively straightforward and the result of needless errors.

    Sebastien Vahaamahina was guilty of four silly penalties either side of half-time - two of them were converted by Sexton for points and another cost his side a rare attacking position.

    The home side fought their way back into contention in the third quarter but almost released the pressure valve when team captain Guilhem Guirado didn't roll away, but Sexton missed his kick.

    The home side improved their discipline in the closing stages but were left to rue their early mistakes.


    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Highlights: France 13-15 Ireland
    What's next?
    The young French players will be devastated to have lost in such dramatic fashion, but they have shown that they can be contenders in this year's championship and will have another week of training under Brunel before their visit to Scotland on 11 February.

    Ireland's Grand Slam remains on track - but only just. They will know they must improve their attack if they are to regain the title they last won in 2015. Joe Schmidt may now decide to use the same players again and resist the temptation to experiment against Italy in round two on 10 February.

    What they said: 'Our goals would have crumbled if we'd lost'
    Ireland match-winning hero Johnny Sexton: "It was one of those moments - I'm just happy I got another chance as we have worked so hard over the last few weeks and all our goals would have crumbled today if we had lost.

    "It's great to be in the position we are now after getting an away win. I had a kick to put us two scores clear but I just snatched at it so I was happy to get another chance to secure victory for the boys.

    "The boys' legs were out and I don't think we could have got through another couple of phases.

    "The management drill into us every day that it's never over and we have got some good characters in the team. We just wanted to get off to a good start."

    Teams
    France: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Chavancy, Vakatawa; Jalibert, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Iturria, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Gourdon.

    Replacements: Pelissie (Guirado, 73), Priso (Poirot, 55), Gomes Sa (Slimani, 55), Gabrillagues (Iturria, 60), Tauleigne (Lauret, 66), Dupont (Machenaud, 66), Belleau (Jalibert, 29).

    Not used: Fall.

    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best (capt), Furlong; Henderson, James Ryan; O'Mahony, Van der Flier, Stander.

    Replacements: Cronin (Best, 67), J McGrath (Healy, 60), John Ryan (Furlong, 69), Toner (James Ryan, 67), Leavy (Van der Flier, 37), McFadden (Stockdale, 74).

    Not used: L. McGrath, Carbery.

    Match officials
    Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

    Touch judges: Wayne Barnes (England) & Paul Williams (New Zealand)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

    Swami
     
  4. Swami

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    Six Nations: Italy 15-46 England
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce


    Six Nations
    Italy (10) 15
    Tries:
    Benvenuti, Bellini Con: Allan Pen: Allan
    England (17) 46
    Tries:
    Watson 2, Farrell, Simmonds 2, Ford, Nowell Cons: Farrell 4 Pen: Farrell
    England started and finished in style as they overcame a spirited Italy to begin their Six Nations title defence with a seven-try romp.

    Two early tries from Anthony Watson set Eddie Jones's men on their way, Owen Farrell adding another after Tommaso Benvenuti's inspired try had narrowed the gap.

    Mattia Bellini's score in the corner midway through the second half meant Italy had fought back to within 12 points with 20 minutes to go.


    But a brace from Six Nations debutant Sam Simmonds plus sweetly worked tries from George Ford and Jack Nowell allowed the reigning champions to pull away.

    It means Jones's side have now won 23 of his 24 matches in charge, picking up a bonus point to match the achievements of their next opponents Wales the day before.

    Conor O'Shea will have seen much to convince him his Italy side are improving in his second year, but it is still a 13th consecutive Six Nations defeat for the tournament's perennial strugglers.

    [​IMG]
    Anthony Watson's first-half double set England on their way to victory in Rome
    England accelerate from the blocks
    In the corresponding fixture a year ago England had begun slowly, a flaw that dogged them throughout the championship, but here they began with pace and precision.

    On three minutes Ben Te'o, starting at outside centre, crashed the ball up into the Italian midfield to create the space for Ford and Farrell to work a wrap-around on the Italian 22.

    Ford sent May into space down the right and the left winger put Watson over in the corner.

    The same combination brought dividends again eight minutes later, this time May crashing through one tackle before Watson handed off Tommaso Boni and bounced off Tommaso Benvenuti's no-arms tackle to touch down inside the corner flag once more.

    Had Farrell not missed both conversions the damage to home morale would have been worse.

    Instead Conor O'Shea's men responded impressively - Boni and Mattia Bellini combining at pace down the left wing, the forwards securing quick ball and fly-half Tomasso Allen firing a long pass over May to set Benvenuti free down the right.

    Allen's conversion made it 10-7, only for England to hit back immediately. Danny Care, on early for the injured Ben Youngs, went down the blindside from a ruck 15 metres out and Ford, standing flat to the line, found Farrell on his outside shoulder for the inside-centre's sixth try for his country.

    Italy had missed 10 tackles in the first 35 minutes, but with Allen landing a penalty late in the half were delighted to be only 17-10 down at the break.

    Pacy Simmonds makes his mark
    [​IMG]
    Number eight Sam Simmonds marked his Six Nations debut with a superb display. He was England's leading tackler - but the 23-year-old also made the most metres and clean breaks, beat the most defenders and made the joint-most carries, as well as scoring a joint match-leading two tries
    Another slick backs move appeared to have brought them closer still early in the second half, only for the noisy home contingent in the Stadio Olympico to be silenced when Boni's try was ruled out for a forward pass from Allen.

    Instead it was England who struck at the other end. Sam Simmonds was left alone off a driving maul to scamper unencumbered under the posts, and what might have been a three-point game was instead a 17-point lead.

    Italy could have folded, but Bellini held off Mike Brown from another fine long mis-pass from Allen for a deserved second try.

    This was a different Italy, an invention and cutting edge in the backs to match the traditional muscle up front.

    And there was relief in the visitors' ranks when Ford put the game to bed when he ran on to Farrell's break to cross for England's fifth try.

    Simmonds put the seal on it with a second try to mark his tournament debut, showcasing his acceleration and pace to scythe through a tired blue-shirted rearguard before the Exeter man's no-look pass put his club team-mate Nowell away for one his own at the death.

    Man of the match: Owen Farrell
    [​IMG]
    For all the talk of Ben Te'o's selection - and Sam Simmonds' impact - it was England inside centre Farrell whose breaks and passing were the catalyst for his side's victory
    Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Boni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Giammarioli, Parisse.

    Replacements: Hayward for Castello (73), Canna for Allan (73), Gori for Violi (63), Quaglio for Lovotti (41), Bigi for Ghiraldini (54), Pasquali for Ferrari (54), Biagi for Budd (61), Mbanada for Giammarioli (50).

    England: Brown; Watson, Te'o, Farrell, May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Simmonds.

    Replacements: Nowell for Brown (61), Joseph for Te'o (59), Care for Youngs (10), Hepburn for Vunipola (73), George for Hartley (54), Williams for Cole (54), Kruis for Lawes (59), Underhill for Robshaw (67).

    Swami
     
  5. Swami

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    Six Nations: Ireland 56-19 Italy
    By Cian Murtagh

    BBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium

    Against France, Ireland made 193 carries, 50 more than any other team in round one - but for less than two yards per effort.

    They also passed the ball 60 times more than any other side, which was a reflection of the possession they enjoyed in Paris, but it was clear Schmidt's team deliberately attacked the France defence around the fringes of the ruck.

    [​IMG]
    Centre Henshaw was injured while touching down for his second and Ireland's fifth try
    Against Italy, there was a different side to the Ireland attack, as they attempted to spread the ball wide from the opening minute when Lions centre Henshaw twice got around the corner of the Italy defence.

    The bonus point was secured before half-time but Ireland kept hunting for more as they used the pace and strength of their wingers to hurt Italy out wide in what as a ruthless performance.

    Strength in numbers


    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt hopes winning momentum will continue
    It may have been against the championship's weakest team, but the match illustrated the increasing depth of quality in the Ireland squad.

    Many would consider Sean O'Brien to be Ireland's first choice open-side flanker when fit, but the Leinster man remains sidelined with a hip problem.

    In O'Brien's absence, Josh van der Flier was impressive before limping off during the first half against France and his replacement, Dan Leavy, is now making his own claim for the number seven shirt.

    Indeed, it was the flanker's turnover in the 35th minute that led to the bonus-point try by Earls.

    Along with Murray and fly-half Johnny Sexton, Tadgh Furlong is one of the most important players in the Ireland team - but even the loss of the Lions tight-head prop after just three minutes didn't disrupt the hosts as Andrew Porter, 22, slotted in seamlessly.

    Sexton and Murray, who both played the full match in Paris, were called ashore in the 50th minute but their replacements, Joey Carbery and Kieran Marmion, kept Ireland on the front foot as the hosts ran in a further three tries in the closing half hour.

    O'Shea's Italy still in development
    [​IMG]
    Matteo Minozzi scored Italy's third try and looks like being an important player for them
    This must have been an emotional occasion for former Ireland full-back O'Shea, who was trying to plot the downfall of the team he represented on 35 occasions.

    Italy remain a work in progress under him and again demonstrated an array of exciting attackers once the game opened up in the second half.

    However, they were unable to cope with the suffocating Ireland defence when the game was still in the balance.

    Full-back Minozzi, 21, looks to be a real find for the Azzurri, who can no longer rely on an ageing pack of forwards to keep them in games.

    Larmour makes his bow
    Larmour is having the kind of rookie season that dreams are made of.

    The young Leinster tyro was still on an academy contract at the beginning of this season, but has made a rapid rise through the ranks and is now a capped international.

    The 20-year-old had a mixed Test debut, with one scintillating burst up the centre in the closing minutes getting the crowd at the Aviva Stadium to its feet.

    However, he was badly caught out for Italy's second try as he rushed up in pursuit of Carbery's clearing kick but was easily beaten by Minozzi as Italy counter-attacked down the left wing.

    Man of the match - Conor Murray (Ireland)
    [​IMG]
    Ireland's scrum-half scored the home side’s second try and set a tempo Italy couldn’t live with in the opening 50 minutes to demonstrate why he is the most highly rated number nine in the championship
    What's next
    The first rest week of the 2018 Six Nations will give both sides a chance to assess the opening two rounds.

    The likes of O'Brien, Garry Ringrose and Niall Scannell are all in varying stages of recovery and will be hoping to earn a call-up to the Ireland camp before the visit of Wales on 24 February.

    Italy continue to show signs of progress under O'Shea and will travel to Paris in two weeks' time for a Friday night game against a team in rebuilding mode.

    Two of Italy's last five Six Nations wins have been against Les Bleus, although both of those came in Rome.

    Teams
    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; McGrath, Best (capt), Furlong, Henderson, Toner, O'Mahony, Leavy, Conan.

    Replacements: Cronin (Best, 60), Healy (McGrath, 67), Porter (Furlong, 3), Roux (Henderson, 40), Stander (Conan, 40), Marmion (Murray, 50), Carbery (Sexton, 50), Larmour (Henshaw, 44).

    Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Boni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Quaglio, Bigi, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Steyn, Parisse (capt).

    Replacements: Ghiraldini (Bigi, 44), Lovotti (Quaglio, 36), Pasquali (Ferrari, 56), Ruzza (Negri, 57), Mbanda (Steyn, 44), Gori (Violi, 57), Canna, Hayward (Boni, 56).

    Match officials
    Referee: Romain Poite (France)

    Touch judges: Pascal Gauzere (France) & Matthew Carley (France)

    TMO: David Grashoff (England)

    Swami
     
  6. Swami

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    Six Nations: England 12-6 Wales
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at Twickenham



    [​IMG]
    Jonny May's first-half double proved decisive
    Six Nations: England v Wales
    England (12) 12
    Tries:
    May 2 Cons: Farrell
    Wales (3) 6
    Pens:
    Patchell, Anscombe
    A brace of first-half tries from Jonny May made it two Six Nations wins from two for England as they stretched their unbeaten home run to 15 games.

    In wintry conditions at Twickenham May's predatory finishing combined with resolute defence and a canny kicking game held Wales at arm's length despite a tense finale.

    Wales kept Eddie Jones's men scoreless in the second half as they clawed their way back into the game and Gareth Anscombe's late penalty put them within a converted try of the hosts, but handling errors and questionable decisions at key moments hurt their chances.


    The visitors will also question the first-half decision from the television match official that denied Anscombe a try when he thought he had been the first player to get a hand to a chip into the England in-goal area.

    England have now won 25 of their last 26 games, and with Scotland up next remain on target for a third championship title in three years.

    Wales have now won just one of their last six away matches in this tournament, the optimism engendered by their opening day win breaking against a white-shirted wall.

    More to follow.

    England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, May; Ford, Care; M Vunipola, Hartley (capt), Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Simmonds.

    Replacements: George, Hepburn, H Williams, Kruis, Underhill, Wigglesworth, Te'o, Nowell.

    Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, S Williams, Parkes, Evans; Patchell, G Davies; Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (capt), A Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.

    Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Francis, B Davies, Tipuric, A Davies, Anscombe, North.

    Swami
     
  7. Swami

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    Six Nations: Scotland 32-26 France
    [​IMG]
    By Andy Burke

    BBC Scotland at Murrayfield



    [​IMG]
    Huw Jones dives over to score Scotland's second try, his eighth in 13 Tests
    2018 Six Nations
    Scotland (14) 32
    Tries:
    Maitland, Jones Cons: Laidlaw 2 Pens: Laidlaw 6
    France (20) 26
    Tries:
    Thomas 2 Cons: Machenaud 2 Pens: Machenaud 2, Serin 2
    Scotland put defeat by Wales behind them to overcome France at Murrayfield and revive their Six Nations campaign.

    The first of two Teddy Thomas tries put France into an early 10-0 lead before Sean Maitland crossed for Scotland.

    Thomas gathered a lucky bounce to score again but the hosts replied via Huw Jones' try, only for Maxime Machenaud's second penalty to put France 20-14 up.


    Greig Laidlaw kicked six penalties, to two from Baptiste Serin, to steer the Scots home in a tense second half.

    Scotland will next face reigning champions England at Murrayfield on Saturday, 24 February (16:45 KO), while France host Italy on Friday, 23 February (20:00 KO).

    The fashion in which Scotland were swatted away by Wales on the opening day caused a hasty reassessment in some quarters of what Gregor Townsend's men could realistically achieve in this championship, having been tipped by many as potential dark horses for the title.

    France were nursing their own wounds, denied victory against Ireland in Paris by a dramatic Johnny Sexton drop-goal in the last play of the game.

    [​IMG]
    Thomas' stunning try looked to have given France victory in that match before Sexton's late heroics. With less than three minutes on the clock here, the winger ripped the Scottish defence to shreds.

    Collecting a pass five metres inside the Scottish half wide on the right, Thomas brushed off a weak Finn Russell tackle, skipped around Peter Horne and away from Stuart Hogg to coast over.

    Machenaud's conversion and subsequent penalty saw the nervous Murrayfield faithful glance up at a scoreboard showing their team 10-0 down after 10 minutes, but the Scotland response was not long in coming.

    A clever kick from Hogg forced an attacking line-out deep in French territory. After running through the phases - something they struggled badly with last weekend - the Scots picked their moment to go wide, Russell timing the scoring pass to Maitland to perfection.

    Scotland's attacking style drew many plaudits in the autumn, but if Wales proved they do not have a monopoly on ambitious rugby, the French seemed intent on ramming it down their throats.

    After pulling the home side from side to side, the ball was shipped to Thomas. The Racing 92 flier chipped ahead and as the bounce took the ball away from the covering Laidlaw, Thomas gathered to re-establish the 10-point lead.

    [​IMG]
    Teddy Thomas' first-half brace took his try tally to eight in 10 Tests
    The next score was going to be crucial to Scottish confidence - on the field and in the stands - and the stadium erupted when Jones cut a gorgeous short line to take Laidlaw's pass, slice through the France defence and go in under the posts.

    Another Machenaud penalty gave the French a 20-14 half-time lead, but it was the Scots that began the second period on the front foot. The impressive Grant Gilchrist blasted through a couple of tackles to get the French retreating and when they infringed on the floor, Laidlaw kicked Scotland back within three.

    Serin, on for Machenaud at scrum-half, and Laidlaw traded penalties as the initiative swung one way and then another, with referee John Lacey's whistle checking the momentum of both sides.

    Serin struck again from the tee, but Laidlaw hit back once more, and going into the final quarter it seemed the team who could conjure a try would probably go on and win the game.

    Laidlaw popped over his fourth penalty to level things up at 26-26. Townsend then sprung a surprise by removing captain John Barclay and Russell, guilty of a couple of basic errors, to make way for David Denton and Ali Price, with Laidlaw moving to fly-half.

    The home side were in the ascendency, their replacements bringing the intended energy to their play, and with 10 minutes remaining Laidlaw's fifth penalty gave them the lead for the first time.

    Another, with four minutes left, gave the former captain a 22-point haul from a flawless eight shots at goal, and Murrayfield was soon erupting in relief and celebration.

    Team line-ups:
    Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones, Horne, Maitland; Russell, Laidlaw; Reid, McInally, Berghan, Gilchrist, Gray, Barclay (capt), Watson, Wilson.

    Replacements: Lawson, Bhatti (for Reid, 58), Welsh, Toolis (for Gilchrist, 58), Denton (for Barclay, 65), Price (for Russell, 65), Harris, Kinghorn.

    France: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Doumayrou, Vakatawa; Beauxis, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Iturria, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Camara, Tauleigne

    Replacements: Pelissie (for Guirado, 75), Ben Arous (for Poirot, 58), Gomes Sa (for Slimani, 58), Gabrillagues, Picamoles (for Tauleigne, 58), Serin (for Machenaud, 41), Belleau (for Beauxis, 71), Fall (for Vakatawa, 71).

    Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)

    Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Paul Williams (New Zealand)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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    Six Nations: France 34-17 Italy




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    "inappropriate behaviour", Jacques Brunel's first victory as France coach was paramount.

    His side, without a win in eight games, were disjointed at times, but eventually delivered.

    Bastareaud, who had returned from suspension after making a homophobic comment while playing for Toulon, was key.

    The powerful centre consistently crossed the gain line to give his side momentum and quick ball.

    Italy led after their early penalty try and could have done again in the second half when, with France four points up, Sebastian Negri broke through.

    But the cover defence hauled the flanker to the ground and three minutes later Hugo Bonneval was sent over after good work by Bastareaud and wing Remy Grosso.

    France's strength in depth told in the final quarter as their replacements came off the bench and Italy tired with Bastareaud burrowing over from close range.

    Italy are now faced with the prospect of a third successive wooden spoon, while France will relish the chance to upset England in Paris in their next match on 10 March.

    What they said
    Italy coach Conor O'Shea: "I'm proud of the fight, we were taking a pounding but we scrapped to the end. When you give away that many penalties, you are in trouble but you saw ambition to the end.

    "This is a long, hard road. We have to improve and we will turn the corner. You come here preparing to win but it will take a few days to digest. We will grow and grow and grow and we will have the last laugh.

    "We never said we would win grand slams but we are working hard to make us a strong rugby country."

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    Six Nations: Ireland 37-27 Wales
    By Cian Murtagh

    BBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium


    2018 Six Nations
    Ireland (15) 37
    Tries:
    Stockdale 2, Aki, Leavy, Healy Cons: Sexton 2, Carbery Pens: Sexton, Murray
    Wales (13) 27
    Tries:
    Davies, Shingler, S Evans Cons: Halfpenny 3 Pens: Halfpenny 2
    Ireland inched a step closer to a potential Grand Slam showdown at Twickenham by beating Wales in a thrilling battle in Dublin.

    Winger Jacob Stockdale scored two tries with Bundee Aki, Dan Leavy and Cian Healy also touching down for the Irish.

    A score by Gareth Davies had briefly given Wales the upper hand and second-half tries by Aaron Shingler and Steff Evans left the result in the balance.


    But the visitors were undone by a lack of discipline that cost them dearly.

    So, Ireland will take a 100% record into their next match at home to Scotland on 10 March, seven days before the St Patrick's Day meeting with England.

    It was Warren Gatland's 100th game in charge of Wales, but Ireland spoiled the occasion for their former head coach.

    Welsh title hopes are effectively at an end after losing to the Irish in the Six Nations for the first time since 2014.

    Watch Six Nations: Can Scotland upset England?

    Ireland's new men standing tall
    So much of the build-up focused on the myriad of new faces Joe Schmidt was being forced to mix into his team, with six of the starting side sharing fewer than 30 caps, but it was the newcomers who made the difference where it counted.

    Stockdale was involved from the opening seconds of the contest at Lansdowne Road and the young wing's seventh and eighth tries in seven internationals bookended the contest.

    [​IMG]
    Ireland have now won 10 matches in a row
    His opening score came after Leigh Halfpenny's long-range penalty had put Wales on the board first and Johnny Sexton's reply came back off the post.

    Ireland kept their cool and attacked again with Sexton's bullet pass to the wing creating the space for Stockdale to dive over.

    The Ulster man finished off the contest too with an intercept try that mirrored Jamie Roberts' score in Cardiff last year.

    Aki's try was a tribute to Irish persistence as the hosts showed their ability to keep possession through multiple phases before the Connacht centre contorted himself to score.

    And Dan Leavy, who only got his chance in the back row after injuries to Sean O'Brien and Josh van der Flier, was fully deserving of his try at the start of the second half as Ireland scored three tries in a 14-minute spell either side of half-time.

    Welsh indiscipline
    Wales had conceded just nine penalties in the opening two rounds of the championship and defence coach Shaun Edwards had emphasised the importance of continuing that disciplined approach in Dublin.

    Instead, they conceded the same number again. Aaron Shingler, Josh Navidi and Rob Evans were all guilty of penalties as referee Glen Jackson was quick to whistle at anything he felt was illegal.

    [​IMG]
    Wales led 13-5 when their try by Gareth Davies was converted by Leigh Halfpenny
    In addition, the visitors made some silly errors, with Ross Moriarty attempting to run the ball from behind his own goal line proving especially costly as Ireland attacked down the narrow side from the resulting five-metre scrum for Healy to score.

    Shingler's try in the 62nd minute gave renewed hope to the visitors but once again they conceded costly penalties to dilute their chances.

    From the first of those penalties, Ireland opted to take a quick tap instead of kicking for the posts but a scrum penalty allowed Conor Murray to push Ireland back into a 10-point lead and Steff Evans' score left the visitors with too much to do in chasing the game.

    Home sweet home
    Ireland have not lost a Six Nations match in Dublin since Owen Farrell kicked England to a 12-6 win in 2013, a result which triggered a collapse in Ireland's form under Declan Kidney and heralded Joe Schmidt's appointment as Ireland coach.

    The home side had also won their last nine matches before this game and, after a nervous start, they always looked likely to extend that sequence.

    They were criticised for a reliance on one-out runners in the opening two rounds, but Ireland showed a much greater variety in their attack; mixing the power of CJ Stander, Aki and Farrell with subtle kicks, quick penalties and delayed passes to cut through the Welsh defence.

    [​IMG]
    Wales battled back to make it a nervous finale for the Irish
    Sexton's kicking radar may have been off, but his ability to hold onto the ball until the last second allowed him to send Keith Earls, Rob Kearney and Stockdale through gaping holes.

    Keith Earls limped off just after Shingler's try, but for just over an hour the Munster man was electric. His pace, power and all-action style was the biggest crowd pleaser on a bitterly cold day.

    Wales are never beaten
    Wales had lost just once in their last four encounters against Ireland and this Celtic rivalry keeps finding new ways to keep the fans engrossed.

    The visitors started brightly and, thanks to Halfpenny's boot, they would have led at half-time but for Aki's try.

    Ireland's stunning start to the second half, with tries by Leavy and Healy, meant Wales looked completely out of contention with just under half an hour left to play.

    But, in a match in which they had to survive on just 31% possession, Gatland's men found a way back with Shingler's try creating a palpable tension within the ground before Evans dived over to spark a dramatic conclusion.

    Man of the match - Chris Farrell (Ireland)
    [​IMG]
    Chris Farrell’s combination of physicality and subtlety makes him a nightmare to defend against. Replacing Robbie Henshaw was no easy feat, but Ireland’s inexperienced centre keeps meeting the challenges put in his way.
    What's next?
    The second rest week of this year's championship could hardly have come at a better time for Ireland.

    They will be hoping Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson can recover from their hamstring injuries during the lay-off while Garry Ringrose could also come back into contention after playing for Leinster over the weekend.

    Sean O'Brien also retains an outside chance of playing against Scotland on 10 March.

    Stockdale's later intercept would appear to have put paid to Wales' championship prospects.

    Gatland's men can now look forward to finishing the tournament with back-to-back home matches against Italy and France, beginning with the visit of the Azzurri to Cardiff on 11 March.

    Teams
    Ireland: Kearney, Earls, Farrell, Aki, Stockdale, Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best (captain), Porter, James Ryan, Toner, O'Mahony, Leavy, Stander.

    Replacements: Cronin (Best, 70), McGrath (Healy, 62), John Ryan (Porter, 67), Roux (Toner, 74), Conan (O'Mahony, 67), Marmion, Carbery (Sexton, 77), McFadden (Earls, 62).

    Wales: Halfpenny, L Williams, S Williams, Parkes, S Evans, Biggar, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (captain), Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.

    Replacements: Dee (Owens, 55), W Jones (Evans, 55), Francis (Lee, 55), B Davies (Hill, 62), Tipuric (Moriarty, 62), A Davies, Anscombe (Biggar, 62), North (L Williams, 62).

    Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

    Touch judges: Pascale Gauzere (France) & Matthew Carley (England)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

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    Six Nations: Scotland 25-13 England
    [​IMG]
    By Tom English

    BBC Scotland at Murrayfield

    [​IMG]
    Scotland centre Huw Jones dives over to score the first of his two tries
    2018 Six Nations
    Scotland (22) 25

    Tries: Jones 2, Maitland Cons: Laidlaw 2 Pens: Laidlaw, Russell
    England (6) 13
    Try: Farrell Con: Farrell Pens: Farrell 2
    Scotland scored three tries to earn a thrilling first victory over England since 2008 to open up the Six Nations title race at an exultant Murrayfield.

    Centre Huw Jones scored two tries - Scotland's first against England at home in 14 years - and Sean Maitland grabbed another as the hosts led 22-6.

    Owen Farrell landed two penalties and his converted try on the resumption brought England to within nine points.


    But Finn Russell's penalty after a Sam Underhill shoulder charge sealed it.

    Underhill's no-arms challenge saw him yellow-carded, giving Scotland a man advantage from the 66th to the 76th minute.

    It was only a second defeat for England in 26 Tests under head coach Eddie Jones, and ended their hopes of a second Grand Slam in three years.

    But they remain in contention for a historic third successive Six Nations title, although now trail leaders Ireland - who they face in the final round - by five points.

    After a break next weekend, England will next face France in Paris on Saturday, 10 March (16:45 GMT KO), while Scotland - after a sixth successive home Six Nations win - will head to Dublin to tackle Ireland earlier the same day (14:15 KO).

    'Scotland ferocity on the floor key'
    For so long we have waited for a Calcutta Cup to live up the grand history of the fixture, to quicken the pulse the way it once did. This wasn't expected to a classic, but it was. Scotland were not fancied anywhere outside of their own inner sanctum, but, Lord, how good were they and how electrified was their citadel of Murrayfield.

    In trying to plot the downfall of England's winning machine, Gregor Townsend had flimsy research material. Twenty five games under Eddie Jones and 24 victories. Their one loss was to Ireland last year, a win borne of Irish belligerence, particularly at the breakdown, where they resembled mad dogs in a meat house for 80-minutes-plus.

    Scotland's work on the floor was astonishingly good all day. It was, in many ways, the key to everything. Their ferocity at the breakdown was fundamental to their day of days. Scotland came up with a magnificent amalgam of defensive brutality, creative brilliance and an unshakeable belief that towered as big and proud as the famous castle on the hill.

    [​IMG]
    Scotland captain John Barclay had a superb game at the breakdown, winning several key turnovers
    Their work at the breakdown brought them a penalty early on when Mako Vunipola was penalised and Greig Laidlaw popped it over. Even when Farrell levelled it, Scotland, hungry for work and playing with an accuracy and a tempo, kicked on.

    Townsend demands organised chaos - and he got it when Scotland took a quick line-out 15 minutes in. A Scottish rumble shunted England backwards, a Scottish penalty gave them a free play. Russell, a maligned figure coming into this maelstrom, put a sweet grubber in behind and when the bounce was kind, Jones gobbled it up and scored.

    It was Jones' third try against England in 95 minutes of rugby following his double last season as well as being his ninth in 14 Tests. Astonishing.

    Laidlaw's conversion made it 10-3 and Farrell's second penalty made it 10-6. The pace, largely poured on by the Scots, was thunderous and it only cranked up. That Scottish breakdown came to the fore as the half wore on. With England threatening inside Scotland's 22, John Barclay, a colossus, turned over ball and away the hosts went.

    [​IMG]
    Sean Maitland grabbed Scotland's second try to put them 15-6 up
    A huge skip pass from the magnificent Russell, a huge break by the clever Jones and then Russell again at the end of the move, his delicate floated pass finding Maitland for the score.

    Murrayfield was a place of utter delirium. And the decibels ratcheted higher and higher. Again England found their way back to Scotland's 22 and again Barclay came up with a huge play on the floor, winning the ball and denying England their momentum. That lifted the siege and sent the Scots on their way.

    Enter Jones once more. He exploded on to the ball on the most gorgeous angle, sweeping past Nathan Hughes. With Mike Brown closing in on him on his right and Anthony Watson coming in from his left. Jones had a mountain of work to do to get to the promised land but he got there. Upper body strength, leg drive, demonic intensity - and he was over.

    Jones had now run for 118 metres - more than the entire England backline put together. Unbelievably, Scotland had scored more tries against England at Murrayfield in 38 minutes than they had in the previous 18 years.

    When Laidlaw put over the conversion, Scotland led 22-6. That's how the half ended. Scotland galloped up the tunnel, England got into a huddle before making their own exit. They retreated a stunned team. Never in the Jones era had they been so out-played and so lost.

    England launch fight-back
    Everybody knew that there was a reaction coming. There had to be - and there was. Farrell took advantage of a narrow Scotland defence and raced in to make it 22-13, with the conversion, four minutes after the restart. It was a score that made Murrayfield gulp hard. A nine-point game now.

    [​IMG]
    Owen Farrell's try sparked a comeback for England, but it fell short
    Scotland butchered a try when Peter Horne delayed a pass with three men running free outside him. Farrell thought he had scored a second but play was called back for a knock-on from Courtney Lawes.

    England couldn't find a rhythm. Scotland singularly refused to allow them to inflict their power game. Barclay was utterly immense, but his supporting cast was intense and focused and heroic.

    Jones went to the bench. Sam Underhill wasn't on long before he was off again, binned for a no-arms hit on Jamie Bhatti. To add to their pain, England watched Russell - taking over the kicking duties from Laidlaw - boom over the resulting penalty to make it 25-13. Murrayfield erupted anew.

    England tried to rescue themselves, but they were denied at every turn. Barclay won yet another turnover, then the Scottish scrum won a relieving penalty, then Stuart McInally won another breakdown under his own posts after England went through multiple phases. . As soon as England came up for air they looked a team riven with self-doubt. They knew it was done.

    Scotland were positively walking on air. After a decade-long wait, their celebration was hard-earned and riotous. You sense that the blissful feeling that washed over Murrayfield in those moments will last for an awfully long time.

    Scotland: Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Horne, Maitland, Russell, Laidlaw; Reid, McInally, Berghan, Gilchrist, J Gray, Barclay (capt), Watson, Wilson.

    Replacements: Lawson, J Bhatti (for Reid, 56), WP Nel (for Berghan, 69), Swinson (for Gilchrist, 56), Denton (for Wilson, 69), Price (for Laidlaw, 62), Grigg (for Horne, 72), Kinghorn (for Seymour, 65).

    England: Brown, Watson, Joseph, Farrell, May, Ford, Care; M Vunipola, Hartley (capt), Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Hughes.

    Replacements: George (for Hartley, 56), Marler (for Vunipola, 69), Williams (for Cole, 65), G Kruis (for Launchbury, 71), Underhill (for Hughes, 56), Wigglesworth (for Care, 71), B Te'o (for Ford, 65), Nowell (for Brown, 56).

    Yellow card: Underhill, 66

    Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

    Touch judges: Jerome Garces (France) & Andrew Brace (Ireland)

    TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

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    Two absolutely perfect results!

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    Six Nations: Ireland 28-8 Scotland
    By Cian Murtagh

    BBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium


    2018 Six Nations
    Ireland (14) 28
    Tries:
    Stockdale 2, Murray, Cronin Cons: Sexton 4
    Scotland (3) 8
    Try:
    Kinghorn Pen: Laidlaw
    Six Nations leaders Ireland secured a bonus-point win over Scotland to put the pressure on title rivals England.

    The Irish victory means they will be champions if the English do not also score four tries and win away in France in Saturday's later match.

    Two tries by Jacob Stockdale and further scores by Conor Murray and Sean Cronin secured a deserved Irish win.


    Blair Kinghorn scored on his first Test start for Scotland, but the visitors were left to rue missed chances.

    In a game of unrelenting pace, both teams created opportunities - but it was Ireland who proved more ruthless when it counted.

    [​IMG]
    The table as it stands after Ireland's win over Scotland
    Counting the cost
    Perhaps it was the occasion, or maybe the conditions - but both teams were left to count the cost of a frenetic opening quarter.

    Ireland were guilty of a number of sloppy errors as obvious passes were missed, balls were fumbled and even Johnny Sexton's trademark wraparound misfired more than once - including in the build-up to Greig Laidlaw's opening penalty.

    [​IMG]
    Blair Kinghorn scored Scotland's try despite the efforts of Garry Ringrose
    The Scotland scrum-half split the posts and - against the run of play - the visitors led after 12 minutes, despite Ireland dominating territory and turning down a kickable shot at goal in favour of going to the corner.

    However the biggest mistake of the opening half was by Scotland's inside centre Peter Horne, who had players out wide but paid the price for his ambitious skip pass out wide that was read by Stockdale, who scampered over for the opening try.

    Scottish chances
    The game was being played at an incredible pace as both teams battled to keep the ball alive as much as possible.

    Ireland were under pressure when Keith Earls sent a pass floating into touch and then Sean Maitland burnt past his opposite number Stockdale in a flowing move that featured Ryan Wilson and Finn Russell.

    Sexton and Russell were driving the tempo and both fly-halves took quick line-outs in an attempt to gain an edge, with Russell and Stuart Hogg combining to allow Huw Jones to attack down the left wing.

    The centre gathered his own chip over Earls and broke Rob Kearney's tackle, but then butchered a two-on-one against Sexton when his pass to Hogg drifted forward.

    [​IMG]
    Ireland's 28-8 win left them on the brink of clinching the Six Nations Championship
    Stockdale strikes
    Ireland were not as wasteful with their attacks as Sexton and Murray combined to carve their way through the centre of the Scottish defence.

    Then Garry Ringrose produced a sublime tip-on pass to send Kearney careering down the left wing, only for Murray to be held up over the line.

    From the five-metre scrum, and with the clock in red, Ringrose again showed his playmaking ability with quick hands releasing Stockdale to send Ireland into an 11-point lead at the break.

    Scotland's away day blues

    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Townsend 'frustrated' with Scotland's missed opportunities
    Scotland have now played 47 away matches since the inception of the Six Nations in 2000 and have won just six - four of them in Rome.

    Gregor Townsend's side need to develop a meaner streak away from Murrayfield if they are to make the step up to the next level.

    They were caught cold at the start of the second half after conceding a needless penalty that allowed Ireland go to the corner, and Murray darted off the tail of the resulting maul to power over for his 12th Irish try.

    The visitors then produced another purple patch, but Maitland and Horne both sent passes into touch before a well-worked training ground move featuring Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland allowed Kinghorn to score on his full Test debut.

    [​IMG]
    Ireland are seeking what would be only their third grand slam
    Ireland chase the title
    Ireland knew the championship was within their grasp and they went after the bonus score with real intent.

    Ringrose was held up under the posts and Fraser Brown won a relieving penalty for his side, but the green wave kept coming.

    Sexton turned down another opportunity to kick for the posts and Sean Cronin, just moments after his arrival off the bench, muscled his way over for a try that reverberated across Dublin.

    What's next?
    Schmidt and his players must brace themselves for a week of Grand Slam fervour as the visit to Twickenham looms large on the horizon.

    Schmidt's current crop are attempting to become just the third Irish side to win a Grand Slam and join the legendary teams of 1948 and 2009.

    Scotland will travel to Rome for 'Super Saturday', when they will be heavily favoured to finish their championship on a winning note.

    It will be fascinating to see if Townsend chooses to recall the likes of Richie Gray or Alex Dunbar, or if he will give the team that won the Calcutta Cup another opportunity.

    Man of the match - Rob Kearney (Ireland)
    [​IMG]
    The veteran full-back's place was thought to be under threat going into this year's Six Nations, but 140 metres made from 10 carries illustrates how important he remains to Ireland.
    Teams
    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Furlong, James Ryan, Toner, O'Mahony, Leavy, Stander.

    Replacements: Cronin (Best, 66), McGrath (Healy, 51), Porter (Furlong, 61), Henderson (Toner, 54), Murphy (O'Mahony, 54), Marmion (Murray, 71), Carbery (Sexton, 73), Larmour (Kearney, 75).

    Scotland: Hogg; Kinghorn, H Jones, Horne, Maitland; Russell, Laidlaw; Reid, McInally, Berghan, Gilchrist, J Gray, Barclay, Watson, Wilson.

    Replacements: Brown (McInally, 59), Bhatti (Reid, 54), Nel (Berghan, 54), Swinson (Gray, 71), Denton (Wilson, 18), Price (Laidlaw, 67), Grigg (Horne, 73), L Jones.

    Match officials
    Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

    Touch judges: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand) & Luke Pearce (England)

    TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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    Six Nations: France 22-16 England
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at the Stade de France

    [​IMG]
    France were awarded a penalty try for Anthony Watson's high tackle on Benjamin Fall
    Six Nations: France v England
    France: (9) 22
    Try:
    Penalty try* Pens: Machenaud 4 Beauxis
    England: (9) 16
    Try:
    May Con: Farrell Pens: Farrell 2 Daly
    England fell to a second chastening defeat in two matches as Ireland's bonus-point win over Scotland secured the Six Nations title.

    Eddie Jones' men needed to beat France and score four tries to keep the championship alive, but they came nowhere close in a largely toothless display that belied their status as the world's second-ranked team.

    A game poised at 9-9 at half-time was blown open when Anthony Watson's high tackle on Benjamin Fall saw the England full-back sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes and a penalty try awarded.


    Jonny May's late try gave them hope of an unlikely win, but France held out against a white-shirted onslaught at the death for only their second win in a year.

    Not since 2006 have England lost three matches in a single Six Nations season, but with Ireland coming to Twickenham next Saturday with a Grand Slam in their sights, that is now a real possibility.

    England had won nine of the last 11 matches between these two sides in the Six Nations, including the last three in a row.

    But they only found any fluidity in the last 15 minutes, and this is now three defeats in their last five matches in a tournament they had won in Jones's first two years in charge.

    Familiar problems for men in white
    England's hopes of keeping the title alive soon became focused on simply getting another win in a city that has brought them so much recent success.

    While they began at pace in the stadium where they sealed the Grand Slam two years ago, Farrell landing an early penalty, the issues which have dogged them this year returned once again.

    They conceded eight penalties in the first 40 minutes as they were again second best at the breakdown, allowing Machenaud to kick the points to keep his side right in the contest after Farrell and Daly - with a monster penalty from 55 metres - had opened a little daylight at 9-3.

    Strong in the scrum and line-out, England were predictable in attack, their ball-carriers too often isolated and the pace of the back three underused.

    Having scored nine tries in their first 100 minutes of Six Nations rugby this year their failure to cross the white line in the first half meant they had scored just one try in their next 180 minutes.

    Watson yellow hurts
    It got worse as the second half began. Francois Trinh-Duc kicked to the left-hand corner, and when Fall seized the ball Watson could stop him only with a high tackle.

    Referee Jaco Peyper consulted television match official Ben Skeen and then correctly called it as both a penalty try and yellow card, the Stade de France alive as France's lead stretched to 16-9.

    They should have scored again in the opposite corner after a scintillating break by winger Remy Grosso, only to blow a clear overlap with the English defence ripped open.

    Jones threw on Jonathan Joseph for George Ford on the hour, Farrell switching to fly-half, with James Haskell already on for Joe Launchbury.

    But Haskell gave away another penalty to allow Machenaud to kick France into a 10-point lead.

    Hope flared briefly for the visitors when Elliot Daly's smart pass back inside from Farrell's flat pass found May for the winger to dive over the line, Farrell adding a fine conversion from out wide for 22-16.

    Replacement Lionel Beauxis calmed home nerves with another penalty, although even then England had two line-outs on the French five-metre line as they searched for the converted try that would have stolen it.

    But as their forwards hammered away a metre out they were penalised for the 16th time, and Paris could celebrate long and loud.

    Man of the match: Remy Grosso
    [​IMG]
    The winger made more metres with ball in hand - 110 - than any other player, beat five defenders and made two clean breaks
    France: Bonneval; Fall, Bastareaud, Doumayrou, Grosso; Trinh-Duc, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Gabrillagues, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Camara, Tauleigne.

    Replacements: Pelissie, Priso, Gomes Sa, Taofifenua, Galletier, Couilloud, Beauxis, Fickou.

    England: Watson; May, Te'o, Farrell (capt), Daly; Ford, Care; Vunipola, George, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Hughes.

    Replacements: Cowan-Dickie, Marler, Sinckler, Haskell, Simmonds, Wigglesworth, Joseph, Brown.

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    Six Nations: Ireland win 2018 title after England's defeat to France




    [​IMG]
    Ireland's win over Scotland left England needing a four-try victory in Paris to keep their title hopes alive
    Ireland have been crowned Six Nations champions with a match to spare after England's hopes of retaining the title ended with their 22-16 loss to France.

    Ireland's earlier four-try 28-8 win over Scotland left England needing a bonus-point victory in Paris to keep their title hopes alive.

    This is Ireland's third title in five years under head coach Joe Schmidt.


    Ireland will complete the third Grand Slam in their history if they beat England at Twickenham next Saturday.

    Their previous Grand Slams came in 1948 and 2009.

    Stockdale strikes twice

    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Six Nations 2018: Ireland 28-8 Scotland highlights
    Ireland began the day five points clear of England at the top of the Six Nations table.

    Schmidt's side knew a bonus-point victory in Dublin would require England to do the same in Paris to keep the title race alive - and the Irish secured the five points with ease.

    Winger Jacob Stockdale, in only his eighth game for Ireland, bagged two tries to take his overall international tally to 10, while further scores from Conor Murray and Sean Cronin handed a ruthless Ireland a thumping win.

    So it was over to England, in the later game in Paris, to take the title race to the final weekend.

    England hopes ended by France
    England travelled to the Stade de France hoping to avoid two successive defeats for the first time under head coach Eddie Jones.

    They had been comprehensively outplayed by a fired-up Scottish outfit at Murrayfield in the third round, and kicked off in Paris knowing only a bonus-point victory would be enough to deny Ireland the title.

    Before the match, Jones suggested his side had not discussed bonus points and permutations, and just needed to play well.

    With the scores level at 9-9, the match was blown wide open when Anthony Watson's high tackle on Benjamin Fall saw the England full-back yellow carded and a penalty try awarded.

    Jonny May's late try gave them hope of an unlikely win, but France held out against a white-shirted onslaught at the death for only their second win in a year.

    Key moment - Sexton strikes in Paris

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    Johnny Sexton scores monstrous match-winning drop-goal
    Ireland very nearly fell at the first hurdle in this year's tournament, but were saved by Johnny Sexton's last-gasp drop-goal in Paris.

    The Irish fly-half landed a dramatic long-range drop-goal in the 83rd minute to snatch victory over France on the opening weekend in February.

    Former British and Irish Lions centre Jeremy Guscott said it would go down as "one of the great sporting moments in Six Nations' history" if Ireland won the Six Nations.

    Schmidt and his Ireland side will now have a first Grand Slam since 2009 in their sights when they travel to play England in London in the final round of games next Saturday.

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    Six Nations: Wales 38-14 Italy
    By Gareth Griffiths

    BBC Wales Sport


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    Six Nations 2018: Wales 38-14 Italy highlights
    2018 Six Nations: Wales v Italy
    Wales (17) 38
    Tries:
    Parkes, North 2, Hill, Tipuric Cons: Anscombe 3, Halfpenny 2 Pens: Anscombe
    Italy (7) 14
    Tries:
    Minozzi, Bellini Cons: Allan, Canna Pens:
    Wales ran in five tries to hand Italy their 16th straight Six Nations defeat and jump up to second in the table.

    George North, one of 10 changes made by coach Warren Gatland, scored twice, while Hadleigh Parkes, Justin Tipuric and Cory Hill sealed a bonus-point win.

    Matteo Minozzi scored an early try for Italy with Mattia Bellini adding a consolation late on.


    Wales will finish second behind champions Ireland if they defeat France with a bonus point next Saturday.

    [​IMG]
    Williams yellow carded and then replaced
    Wales had Liam Williams and Gareth Davies both sent to the sin-bin - Williams' yellow card being a major talking point. He was penalised for a high tackle on opposite number Minozzi just before half-time.

    Former Wales captains Martyn Williams and Jonathan Davies, part of the BBC commentary team, believed it could have been a red card with one replay showing Williams' swinging arm making contact with the Italian's head.

    The challenge appeared to have no malice, but could be deemed as over exuberant at best and reckless at worst.

    South African television match official Marius Jonker guided French referee Jerome Garces through the decision.

    Their conclusion was 10 minutes on the sidelines for Williams rather than a permanent exclusion although Wales chose not to return the British and Irish Lions back to the field.

    North star shines for Wales

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    George North extends the lead for Wales
    North had endured a week in which he found himself at the centre of controversy after being accused of not wanting to play for Northampton last weekend.

    The 25-year-old will return to Wales next season on a national dual contract and could come back even sooner - after the Six Nations - if his club relations have broken down.

    In Cardiff he returned to what he knows best in his first Six Nations start in almost a year, scoring tries.

    Italy have seen enough of North over the years and he has now crossed for his eighth try in eight matches against the Azzurri.

    Much changed - but plenty of respect
    The build-up had been dominated by talk of 'disrespect' by Wales' selection following defeat against Ireland.

    The only Welsh survivors were Williams, Parkes, Steff Evans, Gareth Davies and Hill.

    Scarlets flanker James Davies, brother of Wales and Lions centre Jonathan, was the headline act making his Welsh debut.

    [​IMG]
    Hadleigh Parkes celebrates as he goes over to score Wales' opening try
    Davies made an early impression with a turnover as Wales turned down a penalty kick at goal after three minutes.

    The decision was vindicated when Parkes took advantage of some weak Italian defence to power over with opposite number Tommaso Castello forced off with a head injury.

    Another Welsh try followed when centre Owen Watkin intercepted an Italian attack and sprinted 70 metres before delivering the scoring pass to North.

    Outside-half Anscombe, starting his first Six Nations match in his preferred position, converted both tries as Wales led 14-0 inside seven minutes.

    Well beaten but no collapse by Italy
    However, fears of an Italy collapse evaporated - there was no repeat of the 2016 fixture when Wales celebrated a record Six Nations 67-14 victory.

    The Italians frustrated Wales as they chipped away for the rest of the first half while the hosts lacked fluidity following their storming start.

    The visitors took advantage of some poor defence down the narrow side with Minozzi expertly wriggling through tackles from Williams and Gareth Davies. Tommaso Allen converted from the touchline.

    Taulupe Faletau, captaining Wales for the first time in the absence of the rested Alun Wyn Jones, imposed himself on Italian outside-half Allen with a crunching tackle that sent reverberations around the Principality Stadium.

    The second quarter was littered with errors with an Italian mistake allowing Anscombe to slot over a penalty.

    Tempers frayed when Williams was yellow-carded for that challenge on opposite number Minozzi.

    It ended a half to forget for Williams who did not return to the field as Leigh Halfpenny replaced him when the 10 minutes was up in the second half.

    Numbers not counting
    [​IMG]
    Cory Hill celebrates his try against Italy
    Despite being down to 14 men, Wales started the second half in similar stunning fashion with Dragons lock Hill crashing over for his first Test try.

    Wales made life hard for themselves when they were briefly reduced to 13 men as scrum-half Davies was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

    But North crossed for his double and the tireless Tipuric was also rewarded before Italy wing Mattia Bellini grabbed a late consolation.

    What next?
    Wales face France on the last day match with only second in the Six Nations on the line while Ireland will bid for the Grand Slam against England at Twickenham.

    The rivals in Cardiff could finish as high as second or as low as fifth with Wales looking for a third home victory of the campaign.

    Man of the match
    Hadleigh Parkes. The New Zealand born centre has become a steady fixture in the Welsh midfield since making his debut against South Africa in December 2017 and his early try set the tone for Wales. Involved in everything good that Wales produced.

    Wales: L Williams; North, Watkin, Parkes, S Evans, Anscombe, G Davies; Smith, Dee, Francis, Hill, B Davies, Tipuric, James Davies, Faletau (capt).

    Replacements: Owens, R Evans, R Jones , S Davies, Jenkins, A Davies, Patchell, Halfpenny.

    Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Bisegni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Mbanda, Parisse (capt).

    Replacements: Fabiani, Quaglio, Pasquali, Ruzza, Licata, Palazzani, Canna, Hayward.

    Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

    Touch judges: Pascal Gauzere (France) & Andrew Brace (Ireland)

    TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

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    Six Nations: Italy 27-29 Scotland
    [​IMG]
    By Tom English

    BBC Scotland in Rome

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    Win an important step on Scots' journey - Townsend
    Gregor Townsend's men were frequently pedestrian and error-strewn in possession, but battled back from 12 points down in the second half.

    Scrum-half Laidlaw's late kick claimed the visitors their first away championship win since beating Italy two years ago.

    The Scots have matched their 2017 tally of three wins from five, while winless Italy pick up the wooden spoon.

    [​IMG]
    Tommaso Allan scored two tries, three conversions and two penalties for Italy
    For much of this battle, Scotland were blasted to the high heavens by the explosiveness of the Italians, the rampant ball-carrying of lock Dean Budd and, until they started to fade later on, the colossal back-row trio, Sebastian Negri, Jake Polledri and captain Sergio Parisse.

    Parisse was on 99 Test defeats and some fans almost wept for him when 99 became 100. At the end, he stood in shock at what had happened. The one that got away.

    Scotland looked buried for so long, seemingly undone by Italian power and their own horrendous error count. Credit to them for digging it out. Credit to Laidlaw for holding his nerve at the death.

    The visitors, for long periods, were mistake-ridden, physically dominated, routed at the breakdown and lost in so many ways. After a couple of minutes they coughed up their first line-out and seconds later Huw Jones forced a pass to WP Nel. The chain of blunders went from there.

    [​IMG]
    Fraser Brown flopped over for the game's opening try
    Allan put Italy ahead with the boot, a score that was wiped out when the Scots showed a rare modicum of accuracy and composure, Hamish Watson throwing a long pass out to the right wing where Brown scooped it up to score.

    That, in turn, was matched when Allan cut through a gap left open by Jones to score at the posts. Converting his own try, Italy led 10-5.

    The Azzurri had the bit between their teeth. Debutant Polledri carried and carried. Running from deep with a ferocity Scotland couldn't handle, they scored a second try just after the opening quarter.

    Its origins lay in Finn Russell kicking out on the full. Italy hit it up - and then struck for glory, the wonderful Allan grubbering beautifully for Minozzi to beat Watson to the touch-down.

    For the exciting full-back, it was a fourth try in row in this Six Nations. With the conversion, Italy now led 17-5. To that point, they had 78% possession and had forced Scotland into making 78 tackles. It was Cardiff, and the Scots' opening-day humiliation at the hands of Wales, revisited.

    [​IMG]
    Matteo Minozzi sprinted onto Tomasso Allan's kick to score Italy's second try
    They showed they still had a pulse when a monster maul - and how significant the maul was to prove for the Scots - allowed Barclay to go over to narrow the gap to five.

    Scotland were steeped in luck that it remained a five-point game at the break for Italy looked to all the world that they'd scored again just before half-time. No matter. They scored just after half-time instead.

    Two minutes into the new half, having turned Scotland over yet again and after Negri had battered through Jonny Gray, it looked like they'd scored a third try.

    Negri was celebrating when the TMO was consulted and the try ruled out for a Giulio Bisegni knock-on. It was a lucky break for Scotland, but they couldn't lift the siege.

    [​IMG]
    Sean Maitland's try helped propel the Scottish comeback
    Zander Fagerson's spilled ball, Ryan Wilson's missed tackle on Polledri, Laidlaw's flailing miss on the same rampaging forward got the hosts in behind Scotland. Polledri gave it to Allan and away he went. Try, conversion, Italy ahead 24-12.

    Italy blew a golden overlap soon after and, finally, Scotland stirred. Another maul, a long skip pass from Laidlaw and Maitland was over in the corner.

    With 10 minutes left, a 35m maul and a lot of patience gave Hogg a gap to run through - and run through it he did. Laidlaw added the extras and Scotland had hit the front, 26-24.

    The endgame was hugely dramatic. With five minutes left, after Jonny Gray was penalised on the floor, Allan put over the kick to inch Italy back into a one-point lead.

    [​IMG]
    Stuart Hogg scampered clear to bag Scotland's fourth try and the bonus point
    With one minute left, after the home side collapsed a maul, Laidlaw had his seismic moment out on the right.

    His kick was high and true and life-saving. Scotland had pulled it from the fire. The cruellest of cruel days for Italy. For Scotland, a deeply sobering experience but a third win of the season - and blessed relief.

    Match stats
    Italy
    Scotland
    47% Possession 53%
    48% Territory 52%
    6 (1) Scrums won (lost) 4 (0)
    7 (0) Line-outs won (lost) 12 (2)
    9 Pens conceded 5
    107 (5) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 125 (3)
    27 Kicks from hand 27
    149 (19) Tackles made (missed) 158 (15)
    360 Metres made 383
    9 Off-loads 7
    6 Line breaks 7
    Italy: Minozzi, Benvenuti, Bisegni, Castello, Bellini, Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Polledri, Parisse (capt).

    Replacements: Fabiani (for Ghiraldini, 77), Quaglio (for Lovotti, 59), Pasquali, Steyn (for Zanni, 53), Licata (for Polledri, 67), Palazzani (for Violi, 67), Canna (for Castello, 74), Hayward (for Benvenuti, 59).

    Scotland: Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Grigg, Maitland, Russell, Laidlaw, Reid, Brown, Nel, Swinson, J Gray, Barclay (capt), Watson, Wilson.

    Replacements: McInally (for Brown, 40), Bhatti (for Reid, 40), Fagerson (for Nel, 40), Gray (for Swinson, 53), Denton (for Wilson, 67), Price (for Russell, 54), Horne (for Jones, 53), Kinghorn.

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    Six Nations: Ireland beat England 24-15 to win Grand Slam
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at Twickenham


    Ireland celebrate Grand Slam win with victory over England
    2018 Six Nations
    England (5) 15
    Tries:
    Daly 2, May
    Ireland (21) 24
    Tries:
    Ringrose, Stander, Stockdale, Cons: Sexton 2, Carbery Pen: Murray
    Ireland thumped England on St Patrick's Day to win only the third Grand Slam in their history in thrilling fashion.

    First-half tries from Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Jacob Stockdale lit up a snowy Twickenham as Joe Schmidt's men opened up a 21-5 lead despite having Peter O'Mahony in the sin bin.

    A double from Elliot Daly and Jonny May's try with the clock in the red at the end of the game brought only faint consolation for the home side on another chastening afternoon for Eddie Jones.


    Clinical with their chances, composed on an afternoon of immense pressure, Ireland were fully deserving of their triumph.


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    Six Nations 2018: Ireland beat England to win Grand Slam - highlights
    This team now joins the heroes of 1948 and 2009, their thrilling blend of experience and youth a class above their northern hemisphere rivals.

    England had won 14 matches on the bounce at Twickenham but their poor Six Nations went from disappointing to disastrous under a green-shirted onslaught.

    Not since the dark days of 2006 have they lost three matches in a single Six Nations campaign, and with Scotland beating Italy and Wales beating France in the late kick-off, they eventually finished fifth in the table for the first time.

    *Ireland are awarded three bonus points for winning the Grand Slam
    Ireland charge towards history
    Ireland got off to a wonderful start when Anthony Watson, challenged by Rob Kearney, spilled a testing high kick sent into the snow by Sexton and Ringrose dived on the loose ball as it bobbled over the try line.

    England had the chance to hit back but opted to put a kickable penalty to the corner and then had their rolling maul held up.

    It was Fields of Athenry that was ringing through the freezing air rather than Swing Low and it was Ireland who came again on the pitch, Bundee Aki on the left wing dropping a Kearney pass eight metres out with only a scrambling Jonny May ahead of him.

    Sexton hit the post with a penalty from distance but straight in front and England were relieved not to be 10 points down.

    The let-off was short-lived. Aki smashed through the English midfield after sweet hands from prop Tadgh Furlong and a flat pass to his left found CJ Stander charging on to slide at the line and touch the ball against the base of the left post for a try given after confirmation from the TMO.

    From in front Sexton converted for 14-0, and at last England awoke.

    Daly was felled by a shoulder from Aki, who was lucky not to receive at least a yellow card, and from a series of penalties kicked to the corner a driving maul was illegally brought down to see O'Mahony sent to the sin bin.

    England overthrew the subsequent line-out but came again, and from a clever grubber from Farrell, Daly gathered in the left-hand corner for 14-5.

    Most teams would have tried to see out the period with a man down. Ireland were both braver and better.

    A series of penalties won territory before Stockdale kicked over Mike Brown, kneed the ball on as it bounced and did wonderfully well to regain his balance before diving to get a hand to the ball just before it went dead.

    Joey Carbery, on with Sexton having a head injury assessment, stroked over the conversion and at 21-5 Ireland had one hand on history.

    [​IMG]
    Stockdale's exceptional finish was only possible because England had extended the in-goal areas at Twickenham by two metres for the match
    England fightback too little too late
    England came out seeking redemption and went close down the left when Daly was tap-tackled by a scrambling Earls and again when Ben Te'o's poor pass forced May to stop with the line beckoning.

    At last their forwards were starting to make inroads, the ball quick and the runners hitting passes at pace, but there were no points to show for it.

    Remorselessly Ireland took back control. Aki went off injured and England coach Eddie Jones threw on his finishers for a job that had barely been started, yet it was the men in green who threatened again.

    Aki's replacement Jordan Larmour chose to go solo with Earls outside him on the right before Conor Murray knocked over a penalty for 24-5.

    Twickenham was silenced, the gap between two sides on the scoreboard far greater than most had foreseen but an accurate reflection of their respective form.

    The excellent Daly profited from a clever Brown offload to dive over in the left-hand corner to make it 24-10 with 15 minutes to go as replacement George Ford made a late impact.

    With Sexton off too Ireland lost their fluency and Brown was denied in the corner before May went over down the right at the death.

    But the work had been done, and the celebrations reverberated from Twickenham to Tyrone as the final whistle sounded.

    [​IMG]
    It is over a decade since England lost three matches in a single Six Nations campaign
    Man of the match - Tadhg Furlong
    [​IMG]
    A brilliant prop, but so much more than a prop too. Hands like a back, carries like a second row. The Wexford man is of the true heroes of this Grand Slam team.
    'Class and courage' - what the coaches made of it
    Ireland boss Joe Schmidt: "I thought our boys showed that they can deliver in the big moments on a number of occasions today - they worked incredibly hard and merited the win.

    "We showed a little bit of class where we opened them up and at the other end of the pitch it was pure courage."


    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Six Nations 2018: Joe Schmidt couldn't be much prouder of Ireland
    England boss Jones: "We gave them too many penalties at the start of the game and allowed them to build a lead.

    "They are a good tough team, very worthy Grand Slam champions and they've performed extremely well today."


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    Six Nations 2018: Individual discipline let England down - Eddie Jones
    'We showed what we're made of' - the captains' view
    Ireland captain Rory Best: "I'm massively proud of everyone today. It was a ferocious Test match and words can't describe how we feel having won today.

    "We had to make every moment count and try to build as close to a perfect 80 minutes as we could. We showed what we were made of today."

    England captain Dylan Hartley: "Individual discipline was poor today. It leaves a dirty taste in the mouth to lose the last game in the tournament.

    "In the grand scheme of things, we're on a journey and are learning about ourselves. It's not a great thing to lose three games but it gives us a reality check and it keeps us honest and hungry."

    Ireland best in the world at the moment - Dawson
    Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson: "I would put Ireland as the best team in the world at the moment. They were so ruthless in every department and I don't think New Zealand would have been able to do that to England today."

    Former Ireland wing Denis Hickie: "It's an incredible achievement for this team. It'll mean so much for them to do it here, to close it out and get over the final hurdle here. There are some world class players in this Irish team - it's very fitting for them to win the Grand Slam."

    How did social media react?
    Andrew Priestley: There are some wise old heads in the Ireland squad, but it was notable the number of young Irish players on the pitch at the full-time whistle. The future's bright, the future's green.

    Daniel Fellows: Thoroughly deserved Grand Slam to Ireland, great achievement. There's one in the tap for you all.

    Match stats
    England
    Ireland
    54% Possession 46%
    58% Territory 42%
    3 (0) Scrums won (lost) 7 (0)
    12 (2) Line-outs won (lost) 14 (0)
    11 Pens conceded 12
    137 (3) Rucks/mauls won (lost) 107 (4)
    30 Kicks from hand 31
    133 (20) Tackles made (missed) 173 (18)
    409 Metres made 287
    5 Off-loads 2
    8 Line breaks 2
    Line-ups
    England: Watson; May, Joseph, Te'o, Daly; Farrell, Wigglesworth; Vunipola, Hartley, Sinckler, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, Simmonds.

    Replacements: Brown for Watson (34), Ford for Joseph (56), Care for Wigglesworth (61), George for Hartley (58), Launchbury for Kruis (71), Armand for Simmonds (67), Marler (for Vunipola 53), Cole (for Sincler 53)

    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Ringrose, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best, Furlong, J Ryan, Henderson, O'Mahony, Leavy, Stander.

    Replacements: Marmion for Earls (74), Larmour for Aki (56), Carbery for Sexton (34), J McGrath for Healy (51), S Cronin for Best (65), Porter for Furlong (65), Toner for J Ryan (67), Murphy for O'Mahony (73).

    Sin Bin: O'Mahony (28).

    Ref: Angus Gardner (Australia).

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    Six Nations 2018: Schmidt hails Irish 'class and courage' after Grand Slam




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    [​IMG]
    Ireland players celebrate with the Six Nations trophy after the game
    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says his side's "class and courage" helped them beat England at Twickenham to secure the third Grand Slam in their history.

    Having already sealed the Six Nations title, Ireland won 24-15 on Saturday.

    "I thought our boys showed that they can deliver in the big moments on a number of occasions today - they worked incredibly hard and merited the win.


    "We showed a little bit of class where we opened them up and at the other end of the pitch it was pure courage."



    Ireland celebrate Grand Slam win with victory over England
    Ireland's only previous Grand Slams came in 1948 and 2009 and their triumph in London was their 12th in succession, a run of form which sees them move up to second in the IRB rankings behind world champions New Zealand.

    Tries from Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Jacob Stockdale, his seventh of the competition, helped the Irish to a 21-5 half-time lead, and a stubborn defensive display after the break helped to see Schmidt's side over the line.

    "I thought that some of the scores we put together were courageous, going up at the ball or chasing the ball.

    "We had to withstand about eight minutes of constant pressure inside our 22 at the start of the second half and we knew we couldn't afford to leak early points.

    "Even at 21-5, we knew it would still be a real battle and to be fair to the players they delivered. It's fantastic for this group of players; they showed a fantastic mix of class and courage."



    Six Nations 2018: Ireland beat England to win Grand Slam - highlights
    Ireland captain Rory Best added: "We knew it was going to be really tough but we tried to attack England from the start, with and without the ball.

    "It was a ferocious Test match throughout but words can't describe how delighted we are with that win and with the Grand Slam.

    "We set out to make every moment count and tried to build as perfect an 80 minutes as we could, hoping that effort would bring reward.

    "I can't say enough about how everyone involved with the squad has gone about their business - we wanted to make a statement by winning something big and we have shown on the big stage what we are made of."

    [​IMG]
    Jacob Stockdale has scored 11 tries in nine international appearances
    Former Ireland winger Denis Hickie on BBC Radio 5 live: "It's an incredible achievement for this team. Irish teams usually come to Twickenham with a lot of respect and a bit of fear.

    "There are some world-class players in this Irish team. It's very fitting for them to win the Grand Slam.

    "Joe Schmidt has taken this team to another level and they will always deliver. The challenge is can they keep it going and take it into next year's World Cup."

    Seventy-times capped Ireland winger Andrew Trimble on BBC Radio Ulster: "That was something special to witness, to see the guys accomplish what they have done at Twickenham.

    "It's an amazing day that will live long in the memory. Joe Schmidt has accomplished something enormous in Irish rugby."

    Ex-Ireland fly-half Tony Ward: "This is the greatest achievement in the history of Irish rugby. We have won all five games before but this time we beat the French in Paris and the English in London.

    "Ireland were breathtaking in the first half and England threw everything at us in the second half but Ireland were relentless in their defence and thoroughly deserved to win."

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    Six Nations: Wales 14-13 France




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    Insight and chat - subscribe to the Rugby Union Weekly podcast
    Wales: Halfpenny, North, Williams, Parkes, Williams, Biggar, Davies; R Evans, Owens, Francis, Hill, Jones (capt), Tipuric, Navidi, Faletau.

    Replacements: Dee, Smith, Lee, B Davies, Shingler, A Davies, Anscombe, S Evans.

    France: Fall, Fickou, Bastareaud (capt), Doumayrou, Grosso, Trinh-Duc, Machenaud; Poirot, Pelissie, Gomes Sa, Gabrillagues, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Camara, Tauleigne.

    Replacements: Chat, Priso, Slimani, Le Roux, Babillot, Couilloud, Beauxis, Palis.

    Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)

    Touch judges: Wayne Barnes (England) and Luke Pearce (England)

    TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

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