Four-time winner of EPCR’s leading competition Johnny Sexton became the highest point scorer in Six Nations history on Saturday, as he and his fellow Leinster players helped Ireland to a 29-16 win over England in Dublin, clinching a Grand Slam Six Nations title.
The 37-year-old Leinster Rugby player kicked nine points from the tee to take his total Six Nations haul to 566, surpassing the record previously held by former Ireland fly-half and head coach of current Heineken Champions Cup champions Stade Rochelais, Ronan O’Gara.
Ireland scored four tries, with Dan Sheehan scoring twice while his fellow Leinster teammate Robbie Henshaw also crossed. Ulster Rugby’s Rob Herring got the fourth as the country celebrated a Triple Crown and Grand Slam Six Nations title.
The home side started slowly, with England going 6-0 up by the 15th minute thanks to two penalties from Saracens’ Owen Farrell.
But a penalty from fly-half Sexton in the 19th minute not only got Ireland on the board, but saw him break O’Gara’s record and receive a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Congrats to @IrishRugby on a phenomenal #SixNations Grand Slam 🏆
And to @JohnnySexton for becoming the all-time top points scorer 👏
How far will he lead @leinsterrugby in #HeinekenChampionsCup this season? pic.twitter.com/IDjhJiIyGb
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) March 18, 2023
Ireland then began to turn the screw on their opponents, and following a well worked lineout prop Sheehan was on the end of a reverse pass to burst through the England line and power over to give Ireland the lead with a converted try.
England were ever threatening, but with the clock in the red at the end of the first period Freddie Steward was given a red card after the TMO and on-field referee decided there had been no mitigation when his elbow collided with an opposing player.
That set up a long second 40 for England, who did themselves proud despite being a man down. Farrell picked up the first points of the second half through a penalty in the 51st minute to bring them within a point of Ireland.
But soon both the quality of the Irish players and the man-advantage began to show. Centre Henshaw crashed over the line in the 62nd minute to give Ireland a huge score at a crucial period of the game, Sexton adding the extras just as he would do six minutes later when Sheehan put down in the corner following a number of impressive Irish phases for his brace, and Ireland’s third.
England responded with a converted try in the 73rd minute, Jamie George going over after an impressive drive from the England pack, but it would be Ulster’s Rob Herring who would have the final say when he emerged from a maul to reach for the line and give Ireland their bonus-point try.
Herring and his fellow Ulster players will now play against Leinster’s Sexton, Sheehan, Henshaw and co when the two Irish provinces meet in the Heineken Champions Cup Round of 16 at the Aviva Stadium on April 1.