Saturday, 21 July, 2018


Ireland leapfrog England in world rankings ahead of Twickenham showdown

Ireland leapfrog England in world rankings ahead of Twickenham showdown Ireland leapfrog England in world rankings ahead of Twickenham showdown
Noah Ferguson | 13 March, 2018, 02:33

Ireland next face England at Twickenham on Saturday, March 17 (local time), where a St Patrick's Day victory would add this group of players to the Grand Slam-winners of 1948 and 2009.

"That's how you build a team - with a defence, because you can see that every player fights for the other".

Maxime Machenaud duly added his fourth penalty and Jonny May's try came too late in the piece for England, with Ireland now holding an unassailable lead in the table.

Machenaud levelled Jonny May when the Leicester wing was running at full tilt as England struggled to make an headway, their early goal seeping away as France drew level with two more penalties from their scrum-half general. "We'll have to look at how we can be more clinical".

This was also the first Six Nations since 2010 where England have lost two games. "I think we've always had that problem, we've always been aware of it and these games have exposed it".

There was no doubt in the mind of the Irish scrumhalf that Ireland have the resources to win for a reverse of last season, when Ireland prevented Eddie Jones' side from collecting the Grand Slam trophy in the final game. This newspaper covered the pre-Six Nations statement that referees would allow greater licence to "jackalling" players. We've started that with a short run this [Monday] morning and a couple of meetings to get us on the front foot.

It was hardly surprising that at times during Ireland's 28-8 win over Scotland in Dublin, the centre pairing of Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose failed to get their moves right. Meanwhile, Jones rested Farrell for two Tests in the autumn, but mostly the players continue on a relentless slog, not that the powers-that-be ever do much about it.

"There are periods in the game where we are delivering and where we are stringing phases together and playing error-free rugby but I can't honestly say that we have done that enough in any one game, yet we have won all four".

They very almost recovered - despite giving away 16 penalties - to win the game at the last, but they never threatened to score four tries, meaning Ireland could celebrate a week early, France claiming a 22-16 win on the day. "And then if we won the Test match, well we'd score four tries", Jones said. "We know there's still a lot of hard work needed to get there".

"It's very muted upstairs - it's a odd feeling to win the Championship with a game to go", Sexton said. We know how hard it's going to be with England.

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