Ireland secured the Six Nations Grand Slam by beating England 24-15 at Twickenham.
Here are three takeaways from Twickenham.
Jacob Stockdale history maker
The Ulsterman was an inspirational presence against England, breaking the record for most tries in a single Six Nations campaign – with seven in five matches.
The 21-year-old has been one of the leading lights in Joe Schmidt’s side this term, and popped up with a moment of magic at a period where Ireland seemed to lose momentum.
One of the best in the business with ball in hand, the Ulster youngster showed his stellar pace to take the ball on, chip it over of Mike Brown and touch down on the end line on the stroke of half-time.
Stockdale’s good positioning and lethal finishing under the bright lights of Twickenham makes him a key cog in Ireland’s Grand Slam wheel.
Although he didn’t get on much ball in the second-half, he was hungry for possession and chased down kicks at every opportunity with the hope of one ball spilling loose in a scoring position.
If the elusive winger can continue his stunning form leading into next year’s Rugby World Cup, then Schmidt has a hell of a player in a sparkling team.
Ireland show mettle at key moment
With Ireland soaking up pressure from England despite being 14 points ahead, Peter O’Mahony conceded a ‘strategic’ penalty to stop a certain try.
The Munsterman collapsed the maul 22 minutes in and was yellow carded – with Ireland instantly looking under pressure when reduced to 14 men.
But if England had scored straight away they would have gained momentum with the one-man advantage.
Five minutes into the sin binning, Owen Farrell picked out a cleverly weighed kick to send Eliot Daly through to touch down and cut the deficit to nine points.
However, England stayed one dimensional and lacked creativity, with Ireland holding possession and waiting for their moment to strike.
To show this character lacking one of their most influential forwards, and being on the backfoot, underlines the defensive strength of this side.
It was a good penalty to give away despite losing a man. O’Mahony had such faith in his pack that they could defend the line when he was off. They didn’t panic, developed phase play and sought opportunities to score.
Henderson the talisman
Ireland looked strong in defence throughout the contest and Henderson was at the fore of their dominance up front.
The 26-year-old carried the ball effectively and showed dynamic strength in contact to deny England’s pack from gaining a foothold in the match.
The Ulsterman has established himself as Ireland’s first-choice second-row and looks certain to be Schmidt’s starting lock for Japan 2019, alongside James Ryan.
Overall, Henderson played the line superbly, counter-rucked ferociously and set the tempo for a commanding display from the Ireland pack.
His turnover on Farrell in the first half set the tempo for a commanding display from the Ireland pack and he breached the gain line whenever Ryan and all were behind him in support.
He also functioned well at the tail of the line-out and prevented Maro Itoje from gaining a foothold on the contest.
Ireland may look at players like Conor Murray, Jonny Sexton and Stockdale as central figures to their Grand Slam success. But in Henderson, they have a real jewel who can inspire them to more glory in the future.
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