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Sexton's sanity proven as Ireland trounce England

‘I don’t think you guys listened to us,’ said Jonathan Sexton after Ireland delivered the best performance of the Andy Farrell era.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

POINTS WERE PROVEN all round, perhaps even within the minds of Ireland players, as they emphatically broke their losing streak against England.

The first win over Eddie Jones’ World Cup finalists since 2018 and the biggest win over England since a landmark 2007 day in Croke Park may have been too little too late in terms of this Championship, but the 32-18 victory at least served to vindicate a few of this Ireland outfit’s methods.

The alternative outcome may well have brought on a touch of madness. Captain Jonathan Sexton came close to admitting he could feel the diagnosis coming his way.

“The big driver for me was getting the win I thought we deserved, the performance we deserved,” said the out-half when asked about the motivating factor behind the best performance of the Andy Farrell era.

“I was sick of coming in here every week defending ourselves, saying ‘we’re not far away, we just need to dot his slightly better’.

“I think you guys thought I was… I don’t know what you thought, but I don’t think you believed me anyway.”

This week, whether paying tribute to CJ Stander or serving up affirmations of the team’s ability, it was a theme from Sexton and his team-mates that the opinion and respect of those within camp and on the field were the only ones they would put much stock in.

So this win over an embattled England side, who were impressive last week and blunt again today, doesn’t so much act as a confidence booster, but a confirmation of progress in the squad’s own eyes.

“I’ve said it numerous times, the confidence of the group has never been effected. In the four walls we live in at Carton (House) and at Blanchardstown where we train, we saw a lot of the good stuff we were doing.”

And it wasn’t just on the training ground where Sexton had positives to highlight, he points to James Lowe’s disallowed try against France as a move that could have potentially brought the sort of momentum shift that Keith Earls’ finish did today. Or indeed what the 10 calls ‘a game-defining moment’ when Hugo Keenan collected a high bomb in the lead up to Jack Conan’s score.

“They’re the margins that we’re talking about all the time. Sometimes you make your own luck and that was a moment that he grasped. What an incredible take.”

He added:

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“We worked hard over these last eight weeks and we thought we weren’t too far away. We said these things and I don’t think you guys listened to us.

“I think it all came together today.”

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Sean Farrell

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