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'No one can catch us': Joe Schmidt celebrates Six Nations title win despite it not being mathematically over

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt believes his side have done enough to secure a third Six Nations title in five years.

Jacob Stockdale bagged a brace to become the first Irishman to score six tries in a single campaign in Five and Six Nations history, as Ireland moved within one win of just a third-ever clean sweep.

Conor Murray and Sean Cronin also crossed to secure the bonus-point victory that could even see Joe Schmidt's men claim the Six Nations title with a week to spare.

Unless England could claim a bonus-point win over France in Paris, Ireland would be crowned champions on Saturday night.

Schmdit's class of 2018 also set a new Ireland record with an 11th consecutive victory, their winning run dating back to last term's 13-9 win over England in Dublin.

Even if Ireland were to seal a third title in five years with a week to play, Schmidt's side only have eyes for one prize now - a first Grand Slam in nine years.

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

Schmidt told TV3 after the game: "It is pretty much wrapped up tonight. No one can catch us which is great. 19 out of 20 points. It was great to get a bonus-point today. I think it gives us a 10-point differential on the points table.

"It's a little bit surreal. We've never won it, certainly not in my five years with the team... the other two times we've won it away from home so it's nice to have won it at home today. At the same time there is still another round to go.

"We're just going to be reasonably calm about it and go again next week."

Asked whether the likes of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are deserving of a Grand Slam title, he added: "Have they earned it? I really think they have. They've done everything that you can possibly do. They've beaten every tier one nation, they've put 11 consecutive test match wins together, more than we've done before.

"They have fought out incredibly tough finishes but you get nothing at the start of the game next week at Twickenham, you have to start all over again and win it and these players will try to do that."

Independent.ie

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