Farrell's side land Grand Slam in fitting Six Nations send-off for Sexton

Farrell's side land Grand Slam in fitting Six Nations send-off for Sexton

Ireland sealed a third Six Nations Grand Slam with a 29-16 win over 14-man England on a day captain Johnny Sexton also became the tournament's outright all-time leading points scorer.

France put the pressure on Ireland by moving into top spot with victory over Wales earlier on Saturday, but Andy Farrell's side responded at the Aviva Stadium in the final fixture of the tournament.

Ireland were helped by a contentious red card issued to Freddie Steward on the stroke of half-time, at which point the first of Dan Sheehan's two tries and Sexton's record-breaking penalty had given the hosts a four-point advantage. 

Robbie Henshaw and Sheehan appeared to put Ireland completely out of reach before Jamie George's score gave England a glimmer of hope, but Rob Herring got the party in full swing in Dublin with a bonus point-clinching try late on.

England came into the game on the back of their heaviest ever home defeat, but they played the role of party-poopers well early on thanks to a couple of penalties from returning captain Owen Farrell.

Sexton got Ireland off the mark, and the home side's gamble to turn down further penalty opportunities paid off when Josh van der Flier broke out of the lineout and fed Sheehan to race through.

The visitors were still very much in the contest at that point, but they were dealt a major blow when Steward was sent off by referee Jaco Peyper after his shoulder connected with Hugo Keenan's head.

Despite the man disadvantage, England moved to within a point of their opponents through the clinical kicking of Farrell, but Ireland soon pulled clear as Henshaw found a gap to race through and Sheehan was played into space in the corner for his second score.

Sexton hobbled off having converted both tries, shortly after George burst over the line from a quick lineout, but England lost Jack Willis to a yellow card – leaving them with 13 men – and it was Herring who rounded off the scoring by scrambling over for a fourth try.

Sheehan and Sexton star for dominant Ireland

Ireland lived up to their pre-tournament favourites tag by sweeping aside all five challengers en route to their first Grand Slam triumph since 2018.

Farrell's men have now won each of their past eight games in the Six Nations, which is their best ever streak in the competition.

Sheehan impressed with two tries, but it was Sexton who was given a standing ovation when kicking over the first three of his nine points, seeing him bow out with 566 points in the tournament.

England show pride in defeat

Steve Borthwick called on his England players to show some pride on the back of their 53-10 loss to France last week, and they did exactly that, even if the 13-point margin of defeat may suggest otherwise.

The visitors will consider themselves unfortunate to have had Steward sent off, with the fullback arguing he could not do anything to avoid striking Keenan, yet even still they were within a point of Ireland up until the hour.

England, who handed Dan Cole his 100th Test cap in the second half, have now lost each of their past three final-day fixtures in the Six Nations and finish this year's edition in fourth place.

Key Opta Facts

– Ireland have now won each of their last three Six Nations matches against England; overall, they have won 14 of their 24 games against England in the Championship (L10), a 58 per cent win rate – the only side with a winning record against England.
– The team leading at half-time has now gone on to win each of the last 23 Six Nations matches between England and Ireland, excluding the one year in which they were level at the break (2009).
– Steward received his first ever red card in what was his 22nd match in Test rugby for England. It was England's first Six Nations red card since Charlie Ewels was sent off against Ireland last year.

Latest News