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Saturday Mar 18, 2023

Powerful Ireland Weather English Storm To Secure Six Nations Grand Slam

Andy Farrell and his Ireland Rugby team have secured a fourth-ever Six Nations Grand Slam Title in a hard-fought 29 – 16 win over a gutsy England team.

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Inspired by the Six Nations record points scorer in captain Jonathan Sexton, Ireland showed their class to pull away from the visitors in the second half.

England, for their part, brought a much-improved performance following last weekend’s record defeat at the hands of France.

A first-half red card to fullback Freddie Steward made an already mountainous task that bit tougher for Steve Borthwick’s team.

Despite going a man down, England battled valiantly, putting Ireland under immense pressure as they closed to within one point with twenty minutes to play.

Yet, for all their effort, England failed to breach the Irish line until the game was out of sight.

Clearly ecstatic with his side’s performance, Andy Farrell said post-match:
“It means so much to everyone here – to be able to do a St Patrick’s weekend and win a Grand Slam is always going to be special.

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“It was squeaky bum time at 10-9. The pressure that France put on in the last couple of games, we knew it was win at all costs.

“It was a proper old-fashioned Test match. We were disappointed with some aspects of our game but we’ve a bonus-point win. That’s where we’re at at the moment.”

Farrell then pivoted to his captain and what it meant for Johnny Sexton to play his final Six Nations game: “Hopefully there’s bigger fish to fry for Johnny with the World Cup. It’s unbelievable for him to have this moment and lift the trophy.

“He wanted to lift it with someone else and I said he mustn’t. He deserves it. What a way for him to go out of the Six Nations.”

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Speaking after his father, England captain Owen Farrell praised the Irish performance: “First of all congratulations to Ireland. Winning a Grand Slam is special.

“We showed a tremendous amount of fight. We probably gave too many penalties away in the first half which allowed Ireland in.

“When we did get down there we came away with some points. We worked hard for each other and stuck in it. We looked like we caused them problems at some points.

When asked about Freddie Steward’s red card, Farrell said: “It’s not for me to have an opinion on. It seemed harsh to me. They made the rules for a reason, that’s all I can say on it.”

On the World Cup, which starts in September, Farrell said: “We’ve got to go back to our clubs and work hard to become better players so that when we do get back we can be a better team.

“The next time we come together we get a good amount of time together so we can work on building on what we want to build.”

Finally the man of the hour, Sexton spoke about what a Grand Slam in his final Six Nations meant to him: “You could not make this up, it is like living in a dream. We did not play our best but what a team. What a group of coaches.

“We did nothing that they told us, in fact the exact opposite but we made things hard for ourselves.

“England are a top class team. To get a win on St Patrick’s weekend is unbelievable. We did not quite nail it, but we did enough.

“It is the best tournament to play in, the best country to play for. We are so proud to be Irish. It does not feel like the end, there is plenty left in this team, we need to improve on today and we will be back.”

With the Guinness Six Nations now concluded, Europe’s top players will return to their clubs for the conclusion of their respective domestic and Heineken Champions Cup campaigns.

For Ireland, they will enter the World Cup as the number one ranked team in the world. Unlike the 2019 edition of the game’s global showpiece, this Irish team look truly well rounded. Unbridled by the failures of the past and playing with a level of freedom unlike any that have gone before them, 2023 has the feeling of being a special year for those in green.

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