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Ireland end England's Slam hopes

Ireland celebrated St Patrick's weekend in Dublin by wrecking England's anticipated Grand Slam party with an impressive 24-8 success at the Aviva Stadium.

Brian O'Driscoll broke a 78-year-old championship record with his 25th try after Tommy Bowe and four penalties from the magnificent Jonathan Sexton had given Ireland a 17-3 half-time lead.

Steve Thompson came off the bench in the second half to snatch an intercept try and although England's quest for a first Grand Slam since 2003 came to a crashing halt, they did claim the Six Nations title after Wales' 28-9 defeat to France in Paris.

Ireland unleashed all the anger and bitterness following last week's controversial defeat to Wales on a young England side who played like rabbits caught in the headlights.

Martin Johnson's men lacked composure, a failing epitomised by Ben Youngs' first-half sin-binning for throwing the ball away into the crowd.

Ireland's scrum dominated the set-piece, their back row tore into the breakdown, tackled and carried the ball with an intensity England could not match.

Bowe was too hot to handle on his wing whereas England's game was riddled with mistakes and dropped balls. Put simply, it was a horror show of a performance.

The visitors enjoyed some possession in the final quarter but they lacked penetration and direction.

England have been here before. In 2000 and 2001 they were crowned champions after losing the Grand Slam deciders against Scotland and Ireland. That team grew to become the best in the world by 2003 and this young England generation still boast the potential to hit those heights.

But all their inexperience and deficiencies were exposed as Ireland produced an eye-catching display.


From Belfast Telegraph