Sexton: Ireland winning Six Nations is job only half done


England's bid to win a third straight championship collapsed with a second away loss in the Six Nations for the first time in nine years.

The bonus-point fourth try came with 11 minutes to go, when hooker Sean Cronin, only three minutes after replacing Best, dived over from the back of a rolling maul.

"We are three or four years behind Ireland in terms of what they've done and achieved over the last few years", Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said. "If the game continues to be refereed like this, the World Cup is going to be very contestable at the breakdown". A Triple Crown, Grand Slam and the opportunity to be presented the silverware in the euphoria of a win are sufficient carrots for us to dig deep once again.

Don Armand has been called up by Eddie Jones for England's final Six Nations match against Ireland on Saturday after Courtney Lawes and Nathan Hughes were ruled out with knee injuries.

Heeding their latest reprieve, Ireland stole a Scotland lineout to storm clear. But no-one's pretending that the Irish are about pretty - or even sexy - rugby, even if Gary Ringrose's inclusion makes them a little more likely the spread the ball beyond Bundee Aki. "It's lot more of a power game".

Two tries from wing Jacob Stockdale carved out a 14-3 lead for the home side, which always looked like a solid platform to push on for the win and so it proved.

Armand and Haskell, as well as Kyle Sinckler, likewise fit the mould and may come into the side against Ireland after catching the eye off the bench in Paris.

"I've been here before, probably in more hard circumstances, but this is a test for this team", Haskell said. Andrew Porter stepped up in Tadhg Furlong's absence at crucial times, while James Ryan has emerged to ensure major competition in the second row. But after missing France's first two Six Nations matches this year - both lost - due to a ban for uttering a homophobic slur in a club game, his return has given the team a huge boost.

Outside centres have dropped like flies, but Garry Ringrose was sublime yesterday. "They caught us at the start of the game and they caught us when we took the lead again".

Their hopes nearly took a hit this week, with Johnny Sexton restricted to limited training with a recurring back problem.

The head coach might worry that he has been demanding so much of this playing group for so long now, but it is evident that his messages are still getting through.

But the visitors dug in and got the first points on the board when Laidlaw stroked over a routine penalty in the 13th minute.

He's determined he doesn't squander this rare shot at a Grand Slam.

This narrative has annoyed Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, who seems to be a lot more easily riled these days than the cool, level-headed nearly schoolmasterly demeanour he projected in his early years in charge of the Boys in Green.

Sexton said it was a unusual feeling to have already sealed the title with the England game still to come.