One grand slam slips away for England but they picked up two others in Ireland
PUBLISHED: 10:31 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:31 20 March 2017
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England’s senior men missed out on a historic back-to-back grand slam after defeat to Ireland – but there was better news for two other England sides.
The U20s got things going on Friday night at Donnybrook in Dublin, clinching their own grand slam with a hard-fought 14-10 success.
And that was followed by the women coming out on top in the winner-takes-all clash, the 34-7 win claiming the Six Nations title as well as the grand slam.
Saracens’ Jack Nay scored the U20s opening try before Henry Walker added number two.
The Allianz Park-based side were also represented by Max Malins, who converted both tries, Nick Isiekwe and Ralph Adams-Hale.
And they hung on despite Ireland scoring a converted try of their own in the second half.
It was England’s first grand slam at this level since 2011.
Captain Zach Mercer said: “We showed a huge amount of belief in the way we performed. We were resilient and Ireland put us under pressure but I knew we would pull through because this team has that confidence. We have put in a lot of hard work.”
The match was followed by England’s women who went into the game with four wins, the same as their hosts.
And after a tight first-half, that England just edged 5-0 thanks to an Amy Wilson-Hardy score, they showed their strength in depth, running in a further four tries.
It will give England a huge boost ahead of the defence of their World Cup crown back in Ireland in August.
Head coach Simon Middleton said: “The difference between winning and not winning this match would have been huge. To win the Six Nations was a major target for us and we’ve done it with a Grand Slam.
“It gives us a springboard and it keeps our winning mentality going. It also gives us confidence that what we’re doing is right.
“We know we can get better, fitter and stronger.”
But there was to be no clean sweep with the men beaten 13-9 on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium.
Three penalties by Owen Farrell were all England could muster as an Iain Henderson try ended their record-equalling 18 successive wins.
It meant muted celebrations as they picked up the RBS 6 Nations title on the pitch after the game.