Six Nations

Ireland champions despite England heroics

2015-03-21 21:20
Ireland's captain Paul O'Connell, right, celebrates with Peter O'Mahony (AP)

Paris - Two tries by man of the match Sean O'Brien inspired defending champions Ireland to a 40-10 win over a hapless Scotland in their final Six Nations match on Saturday in Edinburgh, which ultimately proved just enough to secure their first back to back title wins since 1948/49.

England did their best to spoil the party with a stunning display of attacking rugby and fell just short of the 26 points win difference they required with a 55-35 humbling of France at Twickenham.

The agonising near miss leaves England without the trophy since 2011 while France finished fourth and have never managed better under coach Philippe Saint-Andre in four campaigns.

Scotland finished with the wooden spoon in Vern Cotter's first tournament as coach.

O'Brien's tries - one in each half - helped the Irish pass Wales on points difference after the Welsh had humiliated Italy 61-20 earlier in Rome with wing George North getting three tries.

O'Brien, who only returned to the Ireland side for the tournament after months of injury woes, said it had been a good performance in what was a record equalling victory over the Scots - emulating the 36-6 victory in 2003 also at Murrayfield.

"We executed really well today and hopefully it will go a long way for us," said O'Brien.

"It was just one of those things, go out and try and win first and get the points on the board.

"I was lucky enough to be on the end of two of the tries."

Ireland's inspirational captain Paul O'Connell, who also scored a try, was ecstatic, although a couple of missed penalties by Jonathan Sexton in the second-half could have proved costly.

"It is fantastic as we were under a lot of pressure," the 35-year-old lock told the BBC.

"We knew we were in the right place even after the Wales defeat and I thought we played some fantastic rugby at times."

Earlier, North had sparked Wales to a stunning second-half performance against an all at sea Italy, who had given them a good game in the first period.

Wales coach Warren Gatland had been looking for a win of over 40 points and he got it as the Welsh sprang into action after leading only 14-13 at half-time in Rome.

Their victory - helped by Italy being reduced to 14 men on two occasions - ended France's slim hopes of the title as the Welsh went to eight points, the French could at best have finished with six by beating England at Twickenham.

Gatland regretted the last minute converted try by Italy that could have been decisive.

"It wasn't bad apart from the last two minutes!" Gatland told the BBC.

"You are always looking for the perfect performance," said Gatland.

England ran in seven tries to France's five in a stunning final match of the tournament but despite battering away at their visitors line late on, could not manage one more converted score needed for overall victory.

But on a day that will live long in the memory, 27 tries and 221 points were scored over just three matches.

Read more on:    ireland  |  england  |  france  |  six nations  |  rugby

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