England's Grand Slam dream spoiled again by Ireland

By STEVE DOUGLAS - AP Sports Writer 19 March 2017, 12:00AM

England must wait to achieve greatness under Eddie Jones.

With a second straight Grand Slam and a record victory streak on the line, the English foundered in the face of a wall of green as Ireland excelled once again in the role of party pooper.

Ireland won 13-9 in the teeming rain in Dublin in a fittingly attritional finale to the Six Nations Championship on Saturday, as England's winning run under Jones ended at 18.

Just as New Zealand's did in Chicago in November — and Ireland spoiled the dream on that occasion, too.

"It goes to show that we are not quite there as a team," England captain Dylan Hartley said. "We are not the finished article."

Fireworks exploded and champagne corks flew as Hartley lifted the Six Nations trophy in front of his England teammates, minutes after the final whistle. Yet, the celebrations were understated, unsurprisingly, and there were some forced smiles on the winners' podium.

England's Grand Slam ambitions also died at Lansdowne Road in 2001 and '11. Jones' men knew the Irish onslaught was coming in an electric atmosphere and couldn't do anything about it.

It was a dramatic final day.

Before the tournament denouement in Dublin, France needed 20 minutes of second-half stoppage time to score the clinching try against Wales in a 20-18 victory in Paris.

In the day's first game, Scotland gave departing coach Vern Cotter a happy send-off by beating Italy 29-0.

Ireland finished second, beating France and Scotland on points difference. Italy came last, collecting the wooden spoon for the 12th time in 17 seasons.

Here's a look at the final round of games:


Everything went right for Ireland, even a pre-match injury to No. 8 Jamie Heaslip that brought Peter O'Mahony into the starting lineup. O'Mahony was the standout in the forward fight that proved so crucial in tough conditions.

Iain Henderson scrambled over in the 24th minute for the only try, as Ireland led 10-3 at halftime. Owen Farrell's kicks kept England in it, but the visitors' handling and decision-making let them down in the tense final 10 minutes.

England lost a lineout on its own throw on Ireland's 22 in the 76th, knocked on in the next phase, and wasn't in the Irish half thereafter.

Jones finally tasted defeat with England, 15 months into the job.


For 79 minutes, this was a gritty, mundane match. Then came injury time — all 21 minutes of it to send spectators in the Stade de France into a frenzy.

In that period, when France was 18-13 behind and camped on the Welsh line, Wales prop Samson Lee was sin-binned and came back on, first-choice France prop Rabah Slimani came back on having already been substituted, France's Brice Dulin was accused of biting wing George North, and the French forced penalty after penalty in the scrum.

French pressure finally told when replacement No. 8 Damien Chouly squeezed through a gap to score a try and Camille Lopez landed the conversion, before sinking to his knees.

The result meant Wales dropped to fifth place.


Cotter rarely displays any emotion publicly but the New Zealander was in tears after the game, his last before moving back to French club rugby next season.

It was fitting that his final match in charge saw Scotland grab an attacking bonus point, given the improvement in the team's cutting edge out wide under Cotter. All four tries came from Scotland's backs, with flyhalf Finn Russell and center Matt Scott going over in the first half and wingers Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour in the second.

The Azzurri were left with five straight losses for the third time in the last four years.

By STEVE DOUGLAS - AP Sports Writer 19 March 2017, 12:00AM

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