A clinical performance from this truly outstanding Ireland side whose 28-8 victory over Scotland saw them claim the Six Nations trophy with a week to spare – after Eddie Jones’ England fell to a shock loss in Paris against France.
Here are our takeaways from the win in Dublin:
THE UNSTOPPABLE JACOB STOCKDALE
The 21-year-old Ulster winger has lit up this year’s tournament with his electrifying runs and he now leads the try scorer’s tally with six after a double against Scotland – his two tries taking Ireland halfway towards claiming the crucial bonus point.
The game hung in the balance on 22 minutes with the visitors clinging to a 3-0 lead when up popped Stockdale to take a perfectly timed intercept from Peter Horne on half way and sprint away to score the opening try.
Then with Scotland still in the match right on half time, again Stockdale was there to spin through a tackle from Blair Kinghorn and score his second try of the game, sixth of the tournament – and 10th in just eight Tests.
Those sorts of stats we are used to associating with great All Blacks wingers but with his speed, size and finishing instincts Stockdale has all the potential to develop into a winger just as good as Doug Howlett, Joe Rokocoko or Julian Savea.
He even won an important turnover penalty when Scotland looked dangerous at the start of the second half.
With talent such as Conor Murray, Jonny Sexton and Garry Ringrose inside him there will be plenty of tryscoring chances for 1.91m, 102kg Stockdale in the months and years ahead.
RINGROSE’S STUNNING RETURN
Peter Stringer spoke recently about the difference between the current Ireland side and the great Ireland teams of a decade ago was depth.
And that was seen perfectly in the return from injury of 23-year-old Ringrose.
Ireland had played the first three rounds without the talented Leinster centre with Robbie Henshaw playing the first two matches before he too was injured and then Chris Farrell stepped in with an outstanding performance against Wales.
But then Farrell too was injured meaning Ringrose, who had played just an hour of club rugby since January, was fast tracked into the starting XV.
Ringrose fitted in like he had never been away with an outstanding all-round performance which would have seen him rivalling Rob Kearney for man-of-the-match honours.
He played a full 80 minutes, making 91 metres (second only to Kearney on 140) from 12 carries and beating five defenders (equal top with Keith Earls). He also made 11 tackles.
The Scots blew three cast iron chances to score – and by the type of players you would expect to usually nail such opportunities
Firstly Huw Jones – so outstanding against England a fortnight ago – did everything right on 28 minutes, chipping over the top and regathering. The line was at Scotland’s mercy with Stuart Hogg on the inside but Jones inexplicably threw the pass a metre in front of Hogg and the chance went begging.
Hogg was at fault on 50 minutes just ten metres out from the Ireland line. The Scots had a huge overlap and all the fullback had to do was find an unmarked Blair Kinghorn outside him but the pass was wayward and the chance went begging.
Then on 54 minutes Peter Horne was clear through with Jones on his left shoulder with a clear run to the line but Horne threw a wild ball which went over Kinghorn’s head again and into touch.
This trio of chances may not have changed the result but if Scotland had taken even one it may have greatly altered the momentum of the match.
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