Six Nations rejoicing for Ireland as win over England in Dublin concludes Grand Slam

Ireland reignited the celebrations of St Patrick’s weekend by earning their first Grand Slam success in Dublin with a 29-16 bonus point win over 14-man England.

The world’s best side were firm favorites to edge out their rivals but had to work hard to claim their fourth overall championship win in the country.

Dan Sheehan’s two tries and more goals from Robbie Henshaw and Rob Herring finally lifted Andy Farrell’s class of 2023 alongside the heroes of 1948, 2009 and 2018 in a historic occasion at a rowdy Aviva Stadium.

England played one man light for half the game after Freddie Steward was sent off after an arm to the head of Hugo Keenan and did his best to spoil the party.

Visiting skipper Owen Farrell, recovered at half-time, caused concern for his father’s side by taking three penalties, while Jamie George added a late consolation point as Steve Borthwick’s men struck a steely one after last weekend’s record-breaking humiliation Determination showed by France.

Still, the hosts owned a grueling test match which saw Irish skipper Johnny Sexton surpass Ronan O’Gara as the all-time record scorer with a penalty and three conversions to take his overall tally to 566 at his Six Nations Swan Song retirement later this year.

Record breaker Johnny Sexton (PA) got more points

Defending champions France took first place in the standings earlier in the day thanks to a 41-28 bonus points win over Wales to put the pressure on Ireland.

England meanwhile crossed the Irish Sea, hurt by last weekend’s record-breaking humiliation at the hands of France, which emphatically dashed their title hopes. They kept their vow to come out fighting.

In-form Ireland would never have everything their own way, and bumpy opening changes were riddled with errors and turnovers as both sides tried to find their footing amid a series of exchanges.

England v France - Guinness Six Nations - Twickenham Stadium

Owen Farrell scored two early penalties (PA)

Two early penalties from Owen Farrell added to a palpable nervous tension in the air before Sexton’s milestone kick halved England’s lead just before half-time.

Ireland orchestrated a decent push into enemy territory but initially struggled to slip into their free-flowing rhythm or gain control against stubborn opponents who showed no signs of rolling over.

Finally, with seven minutes remaining, the hosts made a significant dent on the scoreboard when Josh Van Der Flier sent a well-executed line-out move Sheehan to the line to rage to ignite the crowd.

Ireland v England Guinness Six Nations Aviva Stadium

Dan Sheehan scored Ireland’s first try (Brian Lawless/PA)

England lost Charlie Ewels to a red card within 82 seconds of Twickenham’s 32-15 loss to Ireland last season. And they faced a similarly difficult task 12 months later when they went 10-6 and a man down at the break after referee Jaco Peyper sacked Steward over a robust challenge that edged out rival full-back Keenan.

Galvanized by the red card, the visitors reduced the deficit to a single point with another Farrell kick in the second period, their penalty shootout victories now being celebrated more passionately and the high stakes sparking some flashpoints.

Ireland desperately needed to up the scoreboard to capitalize on their numerical advantage and quash any chance of being forced to face an anxious finish.

Ireland v England Guinness Six Nations Aviva Stadium

Robbie Henshaw also crossed (Brian Lawless/PA)

Henshaw eased the mounting tension by crossing in the 62nd minute in his first start of this year’s competition before Sheehan scored his second goal shortly after.

George bulldozed more than seven minutes from time as England continued to tuck in with pride.

But Borthwick’s men finished the match with just 13 men when flanker Jack Ellis got trapped late before backup Ireland hooker Herring reached for the line to complete the goal. A deafening roar greeted the full-time whistle.

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