Ireland crowned Six Nations champions

Ireland crowned Six Nations champions
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

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

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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