Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ireland break English hearts and Grand Slam dreams

JOY: Jonathan Sexton and Simon Zebo celebrate after the RBS Six Nations Rugby match between Ireland and England. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
JOY: Jonathan Sexton and Simon Zebo celebrate after the RBS Six Nations Rugby match between Ireland and England. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

It's always good to beat the old enemy - and Ireland spoiled England's Grand Slam party in Dublin yesterday with a battling performance which put some gloss on a mixed Six Nations Championship.

Ireland withstood a spirited England comeback to win 13-9. Both teams and the capacity crowd had paused for a minute's silence for the lost crew of Rescue 116.

From the first moment, Ireland - who had suffered the late withdrawal of Jamie Heaslip to be replaced by Peter O'Mahony - had England rattled. Ireland took a seven point lead over England into the dressing-room at half time leading 10-3 - thanks to an Iain Henderson try converted by Johnny Sexton who had earlier knocked over a penalty.

Earlier in France, it had taken 100 minutes of rugby for the home side to overcome Wales with a try converted by Camille Lopez to win the game - all of which meant that no matter what happened at the Aviva, Ireland would not drop out of the top rankings band for the World Cup draw.

Meanwhile at Murrayfield, Scotland won their third Six Nations game this year against the Italians, who were left with the wooden spoon.

The World Cup pool draw is scheduled to take place in Japan on May 10.

Sunday Independent

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