6N: Sexton finally gets a Grand Slam after missing 2009

Ireland's players celebrate winning the Grand Slam after the Six Nations rugby union match against England at Twickenham stadium in London, Saturday, March 17, 2018. Ireland made it a St. Patrick's Day for the ages by claiming a rare Six Nations Grand Slam after stifling the old enemy England in a fabulous 24-15. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

LONDON — Jonathan Sexton did not finish the game. He had done enough to finish off England, though.

Sexton and especially his fellow senior Ireland teammates finally won the Six Nations Grand Slam they craved when they beat England 24-15 at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Grand Slam was kept alive in the first round when the flyhalf slotted a long-range dropped goal deep in injury time to overcome France 15-13 in Paris.

He injured a muscle in the third round against Wales and struggled to kick cleanly, but arrived at Twickenham relatively pain-free. Then he bloodied his nose in the first half and emptied his tank in the second to the point that he was pulled off for good in the 66th minute.

"He was starting to fatigue, just because of the workload, his confrontational tackle ability, his commitment, and general insanity," coach Joe Schmidt said.

By then, Sexton had had a hand in Ireland's first two tries and converted them.

His up-and-under led to the opening try for center Garry Ringrose, and his dummy loop-around fooled England and opened the hole that Bundee Aki burst through for CJ Stander's try. Sexton missed the end of the first half to repair his nose and pass concussion protocols, and finally came off with nine tackles, four carries, and two defenders beaten.

"Jonny attracts a fair bit of attention, and he's perfectly happy with that," Schmidt said.

"Some of the attention he brings on himself, trying to smash people back when he's standing on the try-line, making sure they don't get over it. That's how he bloodied his nose in the first place.

"He's such a fantastic contributor to the group. And his intellect, he runs such a sharp game. His high kick was pinpoint at the very edge of Rob Kearney's reach to lead to the first try."

Sexton was around when Ireland won its last Grand Slam 2009, along with Kearney, who was the starting fullback, and Rory Best, the backup hooker. But Sexton was a 23-year-old practice opponent and in the squad to learn the ropes. Then-coach Declan Kidney told Sexton he was just as much a part of that winning squad, but Sexton never felt like he was because he did not play.

Later that year he made his debut, and has won three championships but not a clean sweep.

"He just didn't want to do it the same way as ROG," Schmidt said in reference to Ronan O'Gara winning the 2009 Grand Slam on a dropped goal.

"They are very much the yin and yang, they're both world-class people and kickers and players; ROG wanted to finish (a Grand Slam) with one (a dropped goal), Jonny thought he'd start with one. They both got what they wanted."

People also read these

Icardi left out of Argentina's World Cup squad

May 21, 2018

Serie A co-top-scorer Mauro Icardi has been left out of Argentina's World Cup squad

Where's Messi? Tributes missing in his native...

May 28, 2018

Where's Messi? Tributes missing in his native Argentina city of Rosario

WADA has 400 doping cases from whistleblowers

Oct 5, 2018

The World Anti-Doping Agency has registered 400 cases after a flood of information from new...

Tolisso leads Bayern over Anderlecht 2-1 in Group...

Nov 22, 2017

Corentin Tolisso set up one goal and scored another to give Bayern Munich a 2-1 win over Anderlecht...

Belgium has scandal brewing over rapper's World...

Mar 8, 2018

The Belgian football federation says it will not change its mind about choosing a rapper known for...

About Us

Daily Sports Global, your guide to the best sports news on the Internet. Access to the world’s biggest sports events right here even if you’re not physically there.

Contact us: sales[at]dailysportsglobal.com

Subscribe Now!