Ireland end England run but Jones remains defiant

by AAP

England were denied successive Grand Slams and a world record for successive Test match victories after going down 13-9 to Ireland in the final match of this year's Six Nations.

Iain Henderson scored the only try of the game in the first half on Saturday with all of England's points coming from the boot of Owen Farrell.

England were already assured of this year's title but Ireland's win denies Eddie Jones' side successive back-to-back Grand Slam titles and the chance of setting a new record of 19 successive Test victories.

Ireland took the game to England at the Aviva Stadium and went ahead on nine minutes through a Johnny Sexton penalty but Owen Farrell levelled the scores eight minutes later after the home side were penalised for offside.

Continued Irish pressure on the English line resulted in the only try of the game on 24 minutes when Henderson popped off the back of the maul to score, with Sexton slotting over the resultant conversion.

England took out the Six Nations despite the loss. Photo: Getty ImagesIreland failed to turn their continued dominance of the half into points and had to be satisfied going into half-time holding 10-3 lead.

England came more into the encounter in the second period and narrowed the deficit through another Farrell penalty but Ireland restored their seven-point lead on the hour mark through Sexton after the visitors were penalised for a high tackle.

Both sides exchanged further penalties to move the score to 13-9 but Ireland held firm in the final minutes, playing the final stages of the match in the England half to secure a win that seals second place in the Six Nations, a world ranking of fourth and top seeding at the next World Cup.

"Big lessons to learn today," England captain Dylan Hartley said. "We set out to win the tournament and we've done that. Obviously disappointed not to win this final game because we had high hopes, we had high expectations of ourselves.

"It goes to show we're not quite there yet as a team. Full credit to Ireland, (they) put us under unbelievable pressure today and gave us one hell of a Test match.

"We're not the finished article, this will keep us grounded, plenty of work to do. But full credit to Ireland today and this atmosphere was a great one to play in."

"Ireland played superbly and they were too good for us on the day," England coach Eddie Jones said.

"My message to the (England) team was be proud of yourselves. They are back-to-back Six Nations title winners and joint world record-holders." - Eddie Jones

"We're batting at a pretty good average," said lifelong cricket fan Jones before adding: "Even Don Bradman got a zero in his last Test."

Victory saw Ireland retain their top four position in the world rankings ahead of May's draw for the 2019 World Cup.

Jones added that New Zealand were "there for the taking" despite the loss.

"I expect at least 15 of our guys to go on the Lions tour, I'd be disappointed if we don't have that many guys in," said Jones.

"And I think they'll have a massive shout (of winning a first series in New Zealand since 1971).

"New Zealand, as Ireland have shown, are there for the taking," the Australian added in a reference to Ireland's 40-29 win in Chicago in November that stopped the All Blacks' run at 18 victories in a row. I can can't wait for us to play them." 


"The bit of pride we can take is the three teams that sit above us in the world (New Zealand, England and Australia) we have beaten in the last six months," said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.


Ireland 13 

Tries: Henderson

Cons: Sexton

Pens: Sexton 2

England 9

Pens: Farrell 3