England 15 Ireland 24: Five key moments from the match
From James Ryan’s first minute marker to Conor Murray’s penalty, Ireland stepped up
Ireland’s Johnny Sexton hits the post with a penalty during the Six Nations win over England at Twickenham Stadium, London. Photo: Paul Harding/PA Wire
James Ryan sets down a marker
1 minute: It was barely noticed and only a drop in an ocean of key moments, but James Ryan’s hit on Maro Itoje at the very start of the game set a marker for Ireland that they rarely strayed from. It was right from Johnny Sexton’s kick-off which was caught by Itoje. However, within a split second he had the huge figure of Ryan barreling towards him and taking him down. It was always going to be one of the most important battles in the game and Ryan certainly came out on top, delivering huge hits throughout proceedings, not least a few minutes later when he teamed up with Dan Leavy to give Dylan Hartley a going over.
Sexton’s best ever missed penalty
22 mins: With Ireland 7-0 ahead, Johnny Sexton got the chance to make that 10-0 with a penalty in a central position. However, his kick tailed off to the right and smacked the post, rebounding into the arms of Owen Farrell. It looked like a good chance had eluded Ireland on a day when taking those chances was going to be hugely important. However, that’s not how it played out. England tried to attack but were turned over and Ireland regained possession. Some sublime passing – including the pass of the match from Furlong – made the space for CJ Stander to power through and get the ball down at the base of the post. From what would have been 10-0 if Sexton’s penalty had gone over, Ireland now led 14-0.
Stockdale knees his way to history
40+2 mins: England had got off the mark shortly before to cut Ireland’s lead to nine points and take the momentum towards half-time. It was imperative for Ireland to hit back before the break and Jacob Stockdale decided to take matters into his own hands. The Ulster winger has been a revelation in this Championship and on Saturday, at the age of 21, he became the first man ever to score seven tries in one Six Nations campaign. A beautiful chip and chase gave him the space to run into and then a stroke of luck as the ball bobbled off his knees took him away from the desperate English tackles before he dotted down inches before the endline to send Ireland into the break with a 16-point lead. Carbery’s conversion from a far from easy angle - when he was only on the pitch temporarily - also warrants a special mention.
Earls clips Daly’s ankles to deny a try
45 mins: The second half was only five minutes old and England needed a fast start. They came flying out of the blocks from the off and Ireland were under serious pressure. After some good passing exchanges from the home side, Keith Earls was caught inside, leaving Elliott Daly with the space on the left wing to drive for the line. However, Earls managed to contort his body, swivel around and dive in to clip Daly’s ankles and bring him down. Ireland got back in numbers, denied an England score and killed any hopes of a fast England start to the second half.
Murray steps up to the mark
60 mins: It was probably the score that put the game beyond England. After a tense opening 20 minutes to the second half with neither team managing to score, Ireland got a penalty in a central position. Johnny Sexton was still on the pitch but hadn’t looked right since going for a HIA shortly before half-time. Conor Murray was asked to step up and did so with aplomb, firing the penalty right between the posts to increase Ireland’s lead to 19 points and put the game beyond England. It was the final score of Ireland’s Grand Slam-winning campaign and confirmed that history was made.