Sexton: Ireland winning Six Nations is job only half done

Sexton: Ireland winning Six Nations is job only half done

Ireland's 28-8 victory over Scotland earlier in the afternoon left the deposed champions needing to win with a bonus point at the Stade de France to remain in contention heading into the final weekend, but scoring one try alone took 73 minutes.

France's centre Gael Fickou (L) runs with the ball during the Six Nations global rugby union match between France and England at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, on March 10, 2018.

Asked is Ireland will win the Grand Slam Townsend was non-committal.

England surrendered the crown they have held for the last two years with a second successive defeat, a fortnight after falling to Scotland.

But the bigger prize would be beating England next Saturday for Ireland to earn only a third Grand Slam, beside those in 1948 and 2009.

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.

So it was over to England, in the later game in Paris, to take the title race to the final weekend. "Any team that is developing, as we are, gets through these tough periods when the game does not love you", England coach Eddie Jones said.

Jones revealed that number eight Nathan Hughes is "unlikely" to be available for the climax to the Six Nations against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

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When Murray scored and Sexton converted to put Ireland 21-3 ahead in the 46th minute, victory looked assured and it was all about taking the bonus point.

Seeking a record-breaking 11th consecutive win against Scotland in Dublin, Joe Schmidt's men initially fell behind to a Greig Laidlaw penalty.

Shortly before half-time, he capitalised on good handling from Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose for his second of the day - but it was his first that had everyone talking.

But the result still did not look in doubt and things got better for the hosts when replacement hooker Seán Cronin secured the bonus point when he crossed the whitewash. It was a team performance right from the start.

The breakdown, exposed at Murrayfield, was a fault line once more but even more alarming were the 16 penalties that saw them whistled out of contention by referee Jaco Peyper.

"Our basic skills were pretty good in a number of areas, our tackling was outstanding and our contact work when we had the ball was outstanding".

"Scotland broke us a few times but we fought really hard to get back".

"Because of this team and how competitive we are, we always want a bit more", Best told RTÉ Sport.

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