Lancaster proud despite his team coming up short

Sport360 staff 10:58 16/03/2014
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Star of the show: England’s Mike Brown scores one of his two tries.

ITALY 11

Try: Sarto; Pens: Orquera 2

ENGLAND 52

Tries: Brown 2, Farrell, Nowell, Vunipola, Tuilagi, Robshaw; Con: Farrell 7; Pens: Farrell

England head coach Stuart Lancaster acclaimed Ireland’s coronation as RBS 6 Nations champions as the perfect way to mark Brian O’Driscoll’s international retirement.

A 52-11 victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico kept England in title contention until the Irish edged France 22-20 in a heartstopping climax to the tournament in Paris.

Lancaster views Ireland as worthy champions and was delighted for O’Driscoll, the world’s most capped player, who participated in the final Test of a stellar 15-year career.

“Credit to Ireland. They are deserved winners and it’s a fitting finale and send-off for Brian O’Driscoll, a legend of the game who everyone in this squad respects massively,” Lancaster said.

“We always knew this was going to be one of the tightest Six Nations and that it would go down to the wire.”

England finished runners-up for a third successive year and were only beaten to a first title under Lancaster on points difference.

In the final table they trailed Ireland by only 10 points and had they beaten Italy by 11 more, they would have claimed Wales’ crown for themselves.

Lancaster defended the decision to empty the bench at the Stadio Olimpico, with one of his predecessors as head coach, Sir Clive Woodward, claiming the replacements robbed England of their momentum.

Manu Tuilagi was brought on with just under half an hour to go, but oddly he displaced the superb Luther Burrell who had shredded Italy’s defence on multiple occasions.

“I’m curious as to which substitute didn’t add. Manu added. We make our decisions on what we’re seeing,” Lancaster said.

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Skipper Warburton’s shoulder injury mars Wales’ emphatic win

David Cooper - Writer 10:41 16/03/2014
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Injured: Sam Waburton could miss the summer tour of South Africa.

WALES 51

Tries: L Williams, North 2, Roberts 2, Faletau, R Williams; Con: Biggar 4, Hook; Pens: Biggar 2

SCOTLAND 03

Pens: Laidlaw

Wales captain Sam Warburton looks set to miss the summer tour of South Africa after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder during the record 51-3 Six Nations victory over Scotland.

Warburton was hurt in the dying seconds of a game that saw Wales run in seven tries – six of them after Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg was sent off.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland confirmed the extent of Warburton’s injury, and said he will undergo a scan today.

Gatland said: “I don’t think he (Warburton) is very good. “It looks like he has dislocated his shoulder. It was put back in after the game. “He will have a a scan tomorrow, and the likelihood is he will need an operation on that and be ruled out of the rest of the season and probably the tour as well.”

Last year’s British and Irish Lions captain Warburton left the Millennium Stadium with his right arm in a sling, and it is the second major injury blow for Gatland inside a week.

Warburton’s fellow Lion, fullback Leigh Halfpenny, dislocated his shoulder completing a try-saving tackle on England centre Luther Burrell at Twickenham last Sunday.

Halfpenny underwent surgery two days ago and is expected to be sidelined for up to 16 weeks, meaning he will miss June appointments with South Africa in Durban and Nelspruit.

Wales’ Six Nations title hopes disappeared through away defeats against Ireland and England, but they ended the campaign with a third successive home win.

It was their record Six Nations victory, surpassing the 47-8 stroll past Italy in 2008, and also a record win against Scotland, doubling the previous-best winning margin at Murrayfield nine years ago.

But the game will largely be remembered for Hogg’s 22nd minute red card, which came after he hit Wales fly-half Dan Biggar late, smashing him in the face with his shoulder.

Referee Jerome Garces initially showed Hogg a yellow card, but he changed it to red after watching replays on the stadium’s giant screens.

“You’ve got to feel sorry for Stuart because he is not that sort of player at all,” Gatland added. “It is a rush of blood, and he’s made a mistake. From our point of view, we are not going to dwell on that. I don’t think you will see that from him again.”

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Irish crowned champions in Paris after thrilling finale

David Cooper - Writer 10:32 16/03/2014
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Jonny be good: Sexton dives over to score his first try of the night.

Johnny Sexton’s two tries helped Brian O’Driscoll complete the fairytale ending to his international career as Ireland claimed the Six Nations title by edging out France 22-20 in Paris.

Sexton ran in two tries, missed five points with the boot and was knocked out cold trying to tackle wrecking ball centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

Ireland rebuffed a late French onslaught to claim their first Six Nations title since 2009 and just a second win in 42 years in Paris, with wing Andrew Trimble also on the scoresheet.

O’Driscoll capped his 141st and final international appearance with just a second career Six Nations title, the storybook ending so craved by the Irish nation.

After 15 glittering years on the world stage, the Leinster stalwart and Ireland icon can finally hang up his international boots a happy man.

Ireland were forced to weather a hefty first-quarter storm, France blasting out firing after criticism of scrum and line-out deficiencies.

Maxime Machenaud slotted two penalty goals to nudge France into the early lead, Bastareaud blasting through the visiting backline onthree occasions.

But Chris Henry’s cute offload outfoxed the home defence after smart build-up play, and Sexton caught sight of the halfgap to cut back inside and over the whitewash.

The former Leinster playmaker scuffed the conversion though, a straightforward effort he should have buried. Ireland quickly doubled their try count though as Conor Murray blasted through a gap and sent Trimble under the sticks.

Momentum switched again though as Remi Tales chipped to the wing, Yoann Huget tapped inside at full leap and Brice Dulin had the easy run home. Machenaud’s conversion wrestled France a 13-12 lead.

Ireland pressed again after another penalty line-out, but Sexton missed his second shot at goal of the night. The fly-half quickly scotched the five missed points by racing in for his second and his side’s third try of the night.

In one blitzkrieg swoop, suddenly Ireland were once again sure of themselves. The visitors bullied France with their textbook maul, winning a penalty for Sexton to shoot at goal.

This time there was to be no mistake, the 28-year-old firing home with assurance renewed thanks to try number two, to put Ireland 22- 13 to the good.

But back came France as Bastareaud thundered into midfield, Louis Picamoles drove to the righthand post, and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski bundled in.

Machenaud landed the conversion, to cut Ireland’s lead to just two points. Jean-Marc Doussain then had the chance to steal the lead from the tee, but could only shoot wide.

And Damien Chouly thought he had stolen the game when he nipped into the right corner, but Vincent Debaty’s pass was rightly ruled forward.

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