Ireland wrap up triple crown as France win Grand Slam

There was to be no repeat of the dramas of the final day of 2015, as France held their nerve in impressive fashion to win a first Grand Slam title in 12 years, while Ireland had to settle second place and a consolation of the Triple Crown.

Heading into the ‘Super Saturday’ final, Ireland knew a win against Scotland would keep their title hopes alive, while they would need England to stop France in Paris, in order to put hand on the trophy.

Ireland maintained their end of the deal, beating Scotland 26-5 at the Aviva Stadium, but the Triple Crown would be their only trophy of the night, as Fabien Galthie’s French side completed a deserved title with a 25-13 victory. at the Stade de France.

Although they couldn’t claim the ultimate prize, Andy Farrell’s side picked up four bonus points in five games against a Scottish side who have a lot more to worry about in the coming months as the relationship between head coach Gregor Townsend and his senior players appears. deteriorate rapidly.

For much of the match, Ireland’s attacking accuracy continued to be inconsistent, while Twickenham’s scrum problem surfaced in the final quarter.

Ireland oscillated between hot and cold throughout the match, and while Scotland threatened their defense on several occasions, particularly at the start, Ireland always looked a level ahead when they finally found his moments of clarity in attack.

First-half tries for Player of the Match Dan Sheehan and front row partner Cian Healy saw Ireland 14-5 ahead at half-time and hold Scotland at arm’s length.

And when Stuart Hogg missed a mere try chance for Scotland in the 48th minute, they had to pay. Josh van der Flier powered off for his seventh try before the hour mark.

Just as it looked like they would be held in the final quarter, Conor Murray fought his way for maximum points and put one final push in the direction of the French.

It was an unusually scrappy start from Ireland, with Scotland regularly finding holes in their defence.

First Darcy Graham caught Bundee Aki on the outside to break his own 22, then Ali Price split the Irish line a minute later, before the loose Pierre Schoeman punched through an unguarded ruck.

But even though Scotland created chances, they didn’t finish them, with a careless pass from Sam Johnson allowing Ireland to relieve the pressure, and an overturned lineout blowing a chance from 10 yards out.

If we needed proof that this 50:22 law was a game-changer, Sexton has it.

Ireland had looked scoreless at times in the first quarter, and the captain had even been guilty of missing contact with a penalty, but when he kicked in from inside his own half at less than a meter from the Scottish line. The noise alone was enough to bring any Scottish momentum back to the home side.

Van der Flier was held back over the line on the maul but Ireland’s body language was suddenly unavoidable and two minutes later they had their first try.

It was a simple execution; Sheehan threw to Henderson at the lineout before gathering at the back of the maul. With penalty advantage ahead, the hooker broke for the line and couldn’t be stopped.

Sexton netted the conversion from the left of the post and Ireland led 7-0 with 17 minutes played.

Scotland’s discipline was killing them, with six penalties spat in 25 minutes and two of them wasted as they collided with Irish players in the air.

It stopped their attacks in their tracks, while giving Ireland the territory that would see them cross for their second try.

In the 27th minute, Sheehan broke again from a maul to gain the initial ground, and after fighting his way to the line, it was Healy who broke through for his 10th test run under the posts, giving Sexton a pat. conversion to make it 14-0.

There had been a spotlight on Scotland’s new No 10 Blair Kinghorn, and for much of the first half the Irish defensive line had him in their sights. But in the 35th minute his quick hands saw Scotland move into the Irish 22 which led to his first try.

It ended with Schoeman rushing in from close range, and while TMO Stuart Terheege seemed to suggest the loose header may have taken an extra twist on the floor heading for the line, referee Wayne Barnes n ‘was not moved, confirming his on the ground. decision.

The scores remained 14-5, as Kinghorn’s conversion drifted right and left, and despite Furlong winning a penalty against Ireland on the restart, good defending from the Scottish maul saw them see the first halftime just nine points behind.

Ireland came close to scoring their third try at the start of the second half, thanks to one of the favorite courses in this championship; a Gibson-Park quick tap. Just as he did against France and England, the scrum-half pounced on an Irish penalty 10 yards inside the Scottish half, with his sniping run taking them deep into the 22.

But the attack was cut off a few phases later, when the Leinster man’s speculative chip in the end zone was dotted safely by a Scottish defender.

The visitors then had their own chance to attack. Stuart Hogg pounced on a loose ball to break through towards the Irish line, and depending on what colors you wore, the luck was either snuffed out by a world-class defense from Keenan or the hubris of the Scottish captain.

As he sprinted to the corner he had two defenders inside his left shoulder who could have gone under the posts, but the full-back went alone, Keenan tackling and clutching his ankles in contact, bringing memories of Hogg’s gaffe in that game two years ago, when he knocked a ball down the try line.

The Irish 15’s intervention was almost out of order as play was stopped for another TMO check on try-scorer Schoeman, whose Henderson bumper looked high and potentially card-worthy . Barnes disagreed and the Scottish prop seemed relieved. The Aviva crowd let her know how she felt.

As Scotland found new ways not to score, it also looked like it was Ireland as we went over 55 minutes. Last week’s failed scrum suddenly looked destructive, giving away two penalties in Scotland’s 22. On both occasions, Ireland kicked into the corner. On both occasions, strikes saw them put the ball back.

But while Ireland struggled with their accuracy, Scotland still looked deflated by Hogg’s missed chance.

Eventually, in the 59th minute, Ireland held the ball through several phases, notably from the excellent Sheehan, before Van der Flier’s counter-current run saw him find the try line.

A third conversion from Sexton took the lead to 16, 21-5, and Ireland got some breathing room.

But again, they stalled. Their Twickenham scrum problems suddenly reappeared as they conceded three in a row over the next 15 minutes.

But with Scotland’s discipline in general so poor, they had one last chance for maximum points, when substitute scrum-half Ben White was shown a yellow card for a deliberate forward.

And from the resulting penalty, it was Murray who fought his way out of two tackles to dive and cap a Triple Crown success with a final knockout.


Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Mack Hansen, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton (captain), Jamison Gibson-Park; Cian Healy, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong; Tadhg Beirne, Iain Henderson; Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: Rob Herring, Dave Kilcoyne, Finlay Bealham, Kieran Treadwell, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Robbie Henshaw.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain); Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Kyle Steyn; Blair Kinghorn, Ali Price; Pierre Schoeman, George Turner, Zander Fagerson; Jonny Gray, Grant Gilchrist; Rory Darge, Hamish Watson, Matt Fagerson.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Allan Dell, WP Nel, Sam Skinner, Josh Bayliss, Ben White, Finn Russell, Mark Bennett.

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