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Six Nations: Ireland win 2018 title after England's defeat to France

11 March 2018

Ireland made its bonus-point intentions known after only four minutes, when flyhalf maestro Jonathan Sexton waived off a penalty goalkick to set up a lineout. Indeed, he could be dining out on it for a while.

The kicking game is one of Ireland's chief territorial weapons, but it was England's as well and Laidlaw had pinpointed Scotland mixing up their game in that way before the England game.

There's two rounds left in the Six Nations, and for the English, they are both huge.

"We've got to go into the game knowing our roles inside out, getting the physicality right", he told ITV.

So it was over to England, in the later game in Paris, to take the title race to the final weekend. "And they're quality players".

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It's always good to win against England, it doesn't happen too often. Although that is exactly what Scotland did against England, gave them the ball, kicking from hand on 38 occasions, ten times more than England. "Clearly it's hard and we are playing against good teams but we have probably underperformed and that is the worst thing". Jonny likes to attack on any front foot ball, those little wraparound plays. But there was a lot of energy and a lot of will from the players.

"It's not like that now but there are still areas of their game that decide how much energy they have got, so we have got to beat them in those areas - on the gainline and in the scrum".

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The boot is on the other foot after past year and I'm sure they'll be licking their lips. They are serious about their rugby but were able to relax as well so have a good balance.

Jones, who has now led England to 24 victories in 27 matches since taking over after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, added: "Any team that's developing goes through a period where the game doesn't like you".

Kearney and captain Best are the two links back to Ireland's Grand Slam-winning squad of 2009, and the evergreen pair will pick up their fourth Six Nations winners' medals in a week's time. "But we feel that we are in the hunt and we understand that we need to win here if we want to win the championship".

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"If we lose the head and try to be over-physical then they'll outsmart us". But whether Laidlaw would resort to his shirt-ripping antics of before, well, perhaps not.

"I think that is fair comment", Barclay said.

It was the Tricolors' first win over England in four years in the championship, and a welcome respite. After taking a big hit from Stuart Hogg, Ireland's medical team were heavily criticsed for allowing the prop to play on instead of sending him for an HIA, despite the fact that he looked seriously groggy.

"It's an important game for us to see how we respond from the loss against Scotland".

"We are proud of how the team played but there is a realisation there is more work to do", Townsend continued.

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The game petered out after that as the Scots tried to get a consolation score and Ireland protected their key men and their points differential to close it out.

Six Nations: Ireland win 2018 title after England's defeat to France