John Burke reports on Ireland’s quest for the Grand Slam in the wake of another convincing win over Scotland
Ireland have now moved forward in their quest for the Grand Slam another victory against Scotland in the Aviva Stadium in the fourth round of this year’s Natwest Six Nations Championship.
Ireland secured the championship this weekend after their 28-8 victory over the Scots, leaving them at the top of the table achieving 19 out of a possible 20 points. This has been a remarkable achievement and is the first time Ireland have won the championship with a game still to play.
With four wins already secured there will be only one thing on the minds of the players and management in the coming week – the Grand Slam.
Ireland are now the only team capable of winning the Grand Slam with every other team losing at least once, a feat which has only been achieved twice before in the history of the green jersey. After the performances that Ireland have put in so far it would be hard not to bet on them to nab a victory against England – and in Twickenham no less.
Ireland’s power in the pack, giving them solid attacking positions off of the line-out, maul and scrum has been second to none. Couple that with a clinical attack and kicking game from the backline and it has allowed Ireland take control and play the game at their own pace. A game plan that they will be looking to use to counter England’s fast defensive line-speed.
Ireland have had a great run of games throughout the championship so far and some of the younger and fringe players are really standing up and showing what they can do given that they have got the chance now to play at the highest level.
In the wake of the Scotland game Joe Schmidt made it clear that it this could only be achieved with the effort from those off the pitch also: “The guys who have been on the pitch have been working very hard, but its been the guys in the background which have made the difference to the team and our greater depth of our squad is what made the difference.”
“The shoe’s on the other foot now to last year when they came to Dublin and I’m sure they’ll be licking their lips to play us”
This tournament has been one to remember so far. From the last play drop goal from Johnny Sexton against France in the first round to Wales nearly coming back at the death of the game to clinch the match in the Aviva stadium in the third round. But Ireland have stayed strong, their will power and commitment has been extraordinary throughout the championship. Now, all eyes rest on Twickenham for the final round and Johnny Sexton knows that it will be a different challenge to any other game against England: “The shoe’s on the other foot now to last year when they came to Dublin and I’m sure they’ll be licking their lips to play us.”
Ireland will take on England on March 17 in Twickenham at 2:45pm