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'Johnny just didn't want to do it the same way as ROG': Schmidt hails old heads in clinical win

There was a lot of second half work to do, but Ireland put the winning scores on the board nice and early in Twickenham.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

WITH A FULL 16-point lead at half-time, Ireland ensured their travelling supporters in Twickenham were not subjected to a nervy finish.

True, England never gave up the chase and closed the deficit to 15 – 24 by full-time, but by then Ireland’s third ever Grand Slam party had begun.

It was an end in stark contrast to the 2009 Grand Slam success, when Ireland could only celebrate when Geordan Murphy caught an under-hit Stephen Jones penalty and booted it out of play. The winning score came minutes earlier when Ronan O’Gara knocked over the ultimate pressure drop-goal.

Of course, Jonathan Sexton left an indelible imprint all over this Championship success, not least by saving Ireland from defeat with a sensational drop-goal on the opening weekend, but the key moments during the fifth and final hurdle were shared across many shoulders.

Source: Six Nations Rugby/YouTube

“He just didn’t want to do it the same way as ROG,” Schmidt told TV3 when asked about the influence of Sexton post-match.

Source: mountnugent1949/YouTube

“They are very much the yin and yang, they’re both world class people and kickers and players; ROG wanted to finish with one (a drop-goal), Johnny thought he’d start with one. They both got what they wanted.”

While pointing towards an extremely youthful group within the squad – put in full focus by a finishing back-line containing Joey Carbery (22), Jordan Larmour (20), Garry Ringrose (23) and Jacob Stockdale (21) – Schmidt moved to express his delight for the older members in the squad.

Only Rory Best and Rob Kearney have tasted this level of international success before.

“Johnny Sexton got the Grand Slam he’s been craving. It’s a fantastic day for those  senior guys.

Rob Kearney with Owen Farrell Head and shoulders above: Rob Kearney is the only Irish player to win two Grand Slams as a starter. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Young guys, they think you can get one of those (by straightforward method):  ‘you just have to work pretty hard and they’ll pop up.’

“But they don’t. Those (older) guys, they know that. Fantastic day for them.”

We had Christy Moore in on Monday and he sang Ordinary Man at one stage, they are ordinary men, but an extraordinary team who delivered exceptional deeds.

The three-time Six Nations champion coach added:  “I’m incredibly proud of a group of young men.

“We opened (England) up a few times with some really clever stuff that they executed so well and at the same time won some 50-50 balls.

“At the other end, we managed to withstand some immense English pressure, (against a) desperate team looking to get a result.”

The day of days – 20 pictures from Ireland’s Grand Slam celebrations

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Sean Farrell

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