Ireland completed their fourth Grand Slam by defeating 14-man England in the Six Nations final in Dublin.
England took an early lead thanks to two penalties from Owen Farrell, but Ireland responded with a well-worked Dan Sheehan try.
England’s chances of pulling off an upset were dashed when Freddie Steward was sent off shortly before halftime.
Robbie Henshaw and Rob Herring tries either side of Sheehan’s second of the game ensured Ireland’s first Grand Slam in five years, and first won in Dublin.
England scored a deserved second-half try through Jamie George, but were unable to cause a major upset and ruin Ireland’s big day.
Despite being tested by a resilient English side, Ireland found a way to win, as they have so often under Andy Farrell, and gave talismanic captain Johnny Sexton the perfect send-off in his final Six Nations match.
At a jubilant Aviva Stadium, the full-time whistle was greeted with Irish celebrations as the home side delivered on their enormous promise, having entered the competition as the world’s number one side.
Irish nerves are on display in the first half.
With the possibility of being crowned champions ending before kick-off by France’s 41-28 win over Wales, the tension inside the Aviva Stadium was palpable from the start as Ireland plotted the perfect ending to a memorable campaign.
While few expected England to spoil the Irish party after their record-breaking thrashing by France last week, it was the visitors who settled faster.
Their reward was two penalties, both scored by Farrell, the second coming after Alex Dombrandt made a crucial tackle at the other end to prevent Johnny Sexton from scoring.
Ireland, clearly nervous, had to wait until the 18th minute for their first goal. But it was a big one, as Sexton thumped a penalty between the sticks to break Ronan O’Gara’s competition scoring record.
While Sexton’s record-breaking penalty calmed nerves, Sheehan’s score elicited a raucous response from the Aviva crowd, the hooker crossing after a well-worked set-piece that saw Josh van der Flier break from a line-out maul.
After Sheehan had given Ireland a much-needed boost, England’s fortunes took a turn for the worse just before halftime when Steward was sent off for colliding with Hugo Keenan.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, England refused to give up in the second half, closing the gap to one point with Farrell’s third penalty between the posts.
But Ireland regained control and put enough pressure on the English defense, allowing Henshaw to slip through before Sheehan’s second score seemingly put the hosts out of reach.
More to come.
Ireland: Keenan; Hansen, Henshaw, Aki, Lowe; Gibson-Park (captain), Porter, Sheehan, Furlong; Baird, Ryan; O’Mahony, van der Flier, Doris.
Herring, Healy, O’Toole, Treadwell, Conan, Murray, R Byrne, O’Brien are the replacements.
Steward, Watson, Slade, Tuilagi, Arundell; Farrell (c), Van Poortvliet; Genge, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Ribbans, Ludlam, Willis, Dombrandt.