Ireland saved their best performance until the final round as they won the Grand Slam after comfortably defeating England 24-15 at Twickenham.
Joe Schmidt’s men were excellent throughout but the first half set up the victory with Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Jacob Stockdale all crossing the whitewash.
Elliot Daly responded for the Red Rose but they were outplayed as the visitors went into the break 21-5 in front.
Eddie Jones’ outfit did pressure the opposition at the start of the second 40 minutes but the Emerald Isle were resolute and Conor Murray extended their buffer from the tee.
Daly touched down for his second and Jonny May also went over as England regained a semblance of pride but, on St. Patrick’s Day, Ireland deservedly emerged with the Triple Crown and Grand Slam.
It was a typically controlled performance from the visitors and the opening to the game set the tone with the champions maintaining possession and forcing England into errors.
Ill-discipline was once again an issue for the hosts and Schmidt’s men capitalised with Ringrose scoring first after Johnny Sexton’s ‘up and under’ caused havoc. There appeared to be a knock-on by Rob Kearney in the process but, after consultation with the television match official, the try was awarded and they had a deserved 7-0 advantage.
England were struggling to gain front foot ball and, as a result, Ireland dominated territory and duly created a superbly worked effort.
Excellent hands from Tadhg Furlong sent Bundee Aki clear and the centre passed inside to the supporting number eight Stander, who touched down at the base of the post.
It was that clinical edge which was to prove the difference as the home side finally begun to put some pressure on their opponents. Ireland started to consistently infringe and it eventually led to a yellow card for Peter O’Mahony after a maul was collapsed illegally.
They initially struggled to create opportunities, however, with the away team defending superbly, but their efforts were eventually rewarded when Owen Farrell’s grubber through was pounced on by Daly.
The Emerald Isle could have panicked but they simply regrouped and arguably scored the game-defining try. Instead of kicking the ball out with the clock in the red, they backed their skills and Stockdale produced a brilliant piece of play to chip ahead and touch down.
With Joey Carbery’s conversion, the visitors were halfway towards the Grand Slam and it was a lead they would hold in the third quarter.
Despite plenty of England possession, Ireland’s rearguard was once again outstanding and they prevented the hosts from getting back into the contest.
Instead, with their first significant attack of the half the visitors earned a three-point opportunity, which Murray converted for a 19-point buffer.
Jones’ men did get a couple back via Daly and May but it was Ireland’s day and Ireland’s championship as they completed a superb triumph to win a third Grand Slam.
Tries: Daly 2, May
Tries: Ringrose, Stander, Stockdale
Cons: Sexton 2, Carbery
Yellow Card: O’Mahony
England: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Jonny May, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Don Armand, 21 Danny Care, 22 George Ford, 23 Mike Brown
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 James Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Jordan Larmour
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Nigel Owens (Wales)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)