Six Nations: Ireland seals title with four-try victory over Scotland

Story highlights

Ireland beats Scotland 28-8

Clinches Six Nations title

England loses 22-16 to France

Wales beats Italy 38-14 to go second

CNN  — 

Ireland clinched the Six Nations Championship with a game to spare with a four-try 28-8 win over Scotland Saturday ahead of a Grand Slam clash with deposed champion England next weekend.

England’s 22-16 defeat to France in Paris later Saturday, a second straight loss for Eddie Jones’ team, left Ireland with an unassailable lead in the standings.

A first half double from try machine Jacob Stockdale laid the foundations for the Irish triumph in Dublin, but two second half tries from Conor Murray and Sean Cronin secured the crucial bonus point.

“We started really well, and had a few chances in their 22, just didn’t take them. But Jacob Stockdale got another two tries, and we got over for the bonus point in the end, so now we look ahead to Twickenham,” said man-of-the-match Rob Kearney.

It is the third championship in five years for Joe Schmidt’s men, who will be eying only the third Grand Slam in the history of Irish rugby, the last in 2009, in the Twickenham clash with England next Saturday.

Ireland fell behind early to a Greig Laidlaw penalty for the Scots, buoyed by its upset victory over England in the previous round of matches.

But Stockdale struck after 20 minutes as he intercepted a long pass by Peter Horne and ran in for a try, converted by Johnny Sexton.

Scotland was left to rue a missed opportunity when Huw Jones failed to find Stuart Hogg in the clear in the Irish 22.

Stockdale scored his second try in the final move of the first half after a superb run by Kearney, with Sexton slotting over from the touchline to leave Ireland 14-3 ahead at the break.

Murray’s converted try six minutes into the second half increased the Irish lead and left the home side within one further try of the precious bonus point.

The Scots, though, fought back as Blair Kinghorn went over in the corner for his first Test try and came close to a second as Ireland wobbled for the first time.

Replacement hooker Cronin, on for skipper Rory Best, got the fourth try as he crossed from close in, Sexton sealing the victory with another touchline conversion.

England slumps to second straight loss

England would have needed a bonus point victory in Paris to keep alive hopes of retaining the title, but never looked capable of that after another poor performance on the road.

The sides exchanged three penalties in a tepid first half, with England giving little cause to believe it might garner the tries necessary to keep the pressure on the Irish.

It got even worse for the visitor after the interval as France was awarded a penalty try for a high tackle by Anthony Watson on Benjamin Fall.

A Maxime Machenaud penalty took the French 19-9 ahead, at last sparking an England revival as Jonny May went over after a clever Elliot Daly pass.

Lionel Beauxis relieved some home pressure with a further penalty, but England came close to snatching a late victory with wave after wave of surges towards the French try line in injury time.

Home relief and triumph was clear for all to see as finally England knocked on to wreck its victory hopes, but the title was already gone.

“We had a chance but unfortunately could not finish it. We have to look back on it and learn from it,” reflected a rueful England captain Owen Farrell.

Wales up to second with thumping win

Wales took full advantage of England’s recent failings with a 38-14 victory over Italy in Cardiff Sunday to move into second place in the standings.

The five-try bonus point win owed much to a dynamic performance from George North, who crossed for two tries and was denied a hat-trick when a late effort was ruled out.

Centre Hadleigh Parkes, who also had a superb game, lock Cory hill and flanker Justin Tipuric also crossed as perennial wooden spoon team Italy lost for the 16th straight game in the Six Nations.

Fly-half Gareth Anscombe kicked three conversions and a penalty, while replacement Leigh Halfpenny added two conversions.

Italy, who put up a spirited performance in the first half, scored tries through Matteo Minozzi and Mattia Bellini, both converted.