x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ireland close door on England's Grand Slam hopes

England miss out on their first Grand Slam since 2003 after their 24-8 loss in Dublin, while Scotland's 21-8 victory against Italy means they avoid the Six Nations wooden spoon.

Brian O'Driscoll was delighted to see Ireland finally put "the whole package" together as they beat England 24-8 to end Martin Johnson's Six Nations Grand Slam dream.

Captain O'Driscoll scored the second try — a record 25th in the competition — to help his side to victory in Dublin as they finished the Six Nations on a high note yesterday.

"We knew it was in us, for some reason it hadn't happened in the first four games," he told BBC1. "Parts of our game were really good but we hadn't been able to put the whole package together.



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"We played a smart game, an intense game, and they couldn't live with us.

"We lost the second half but to score 24 points against this team is an impressive innings.

"We won the Slam two years ago and had a mixed bag last year, and even though we had nothing tangible to play for today it's great to finish with a resounding win."

Tommy Bowe also crossed while Jonathan Sexton slotted over 14 points with the boot to claim the man of the match award.

Sexton edged out Ronan O'Gara to selection at fly-half and O'Driscoll continued: "We're very fortunate to have two top-class out-halves. Sexton did the business today when a lot of people were saying Ronan should have started."

England coach Johnson saw replacement hooker Steve Thompson rumble over for a consolation try in the second half, but could not hide his unhappiness at an error-strewn display. He said: "We're desperately disappointed, (a) not to have won the game and (b) the way we lost.

"They outplayed us, we had a horrible first half and did everything we talk about not doing away from home - we compounded errors and they got a couple on us at the breakdown."

Meanwhile, Andy Robinson, the head coach of Scotland, praised the determination of his side as they finished their tournament with a flourish and avoided the wooden spoon with a 21-8 victory over Italy at Murrayfield yesterday.

He said: "That's what we're here for, to win games of rugby - I thought we got our just rewards today from our endeavour to move our game forward.

"I'm not going to hide away from the fact we were disappointed coming to the end of the championship not having won a game, as we did last year. It's something we've got to look at for the start of the next championship."

Nick De Luca scored Scotland's first try at Murrayfield since November 2009 and Nikki Walker added another as the hosts crossed for two touchdowns in quick succession early in the second half, turning the game in their favour.

Scotland had trailed 8-6 at half time as Andrea Masi, who was forced off injured before the interval, scored a try and Mirco Bergamasco a penalty to cancel out two from Chris Paterson.

Paterson finished with 11 points - three penalties and one conversion - as Scotland ended a run of four straight losses.