Ireland have won the 2018 NatWest Six Nations after securing a 28-8 victory over Scotland and England’s 22-16 loss to France in the evening kick-off confirmed that Ireland are champions with one round to spare.
A Jacob Stockdale brace and a try each from Conor Murray and Sean Cronin got Ireland a bonus-point win in Dublin earlier this afternoon and attention immediately turned to Paris with England knowing they needed a bonus-point win to keep their championship hopes alive.
England couldn’t maintain a lead against France in the first half as they were pegged back by the boot of Maxime Machenaud time and time again.
As the sides went in at the interval 9 points apiece, it was France who struck first in the second half. Anthony Watson denied a certain French try in the corner but his tackle was high which meant France were awarded a penalty try and to make matters worse, Watson was sent to the bin.
France kicked another penalty from Maxime Machenaud with less than 15 minutes remaining to extend the lead to 19-9.
England tried in vain to get a try of their own but they were met by an unrelenting wall of blue which stopped them in their tracks. However, they did get over when Elliot Daly did brilliantly to tap the ball to Jonny May who scored England’s first try with just five minutes remaining.
Lionel Beauxis added three points after more England indiscipline led to a penalty with just minutes remaining. From there, England tried their best to get a try with the clock ticking down but it wasn’t to be.
The loss means that Ireland are now confirmed as the 2018 Six Nations champions. Joe Schmidt’s side will head to Twickenham next weekend in the hope of winning the Grand Slam while England will be desperate not to suffer a third consecutive loss.