ReigningChampions Ireland crushed Scotland at Murrayfield last night and won Six Nationtitle glory on points’ difference, which meant that they had secured their back-to-backtitles for the first time since 1966.  

Irelandneeded to win by a 21-point margin, after Wales’ astonishing 61-20 victory inRome earlier yesterday afternoon, and they came out ready to deliver. The Thistle’s skipper Paul O’Connell set atone with a fourth minute try. TheRacing Metro Johnny Sexton’s conversion and subsequent penalty, fiveminutes later, gave the visitors’ team a 10 point early lead.

TheScottish then managed to endure a longer period of pressure and they bought thehosts their first points through the boot of Greig Laidlaw, but they conceded apoor try from Sean O’Brien, who stormed over for Ireland’s second in the 25thminute.  The Scots finally got theirreward when Finn Russell crossed over in the 29th minute, to givethem some hope of avoiding the whitewash.  But it was a comfortable 20-10 scoreline for Irelandat halftime.

The secondhalf was full of drama; the Irish number 10, Sexton, kicked a penalty fourminutes after the interval, and Jared Payne sliced through the Scottishback-line to score under the posts five minutes later. Sexton converted for a30-10, but he then missed two opportunities to edge his team towards a21-points victory margin.

It wasO’Brien who rounded off a period of pressure in the 71st minute, bybundling the ball over for his second of the afternoon, and more importantly,Ireland’s fourth. O’ Brien deserved hisman-of-the-match title, as he significantly contributed to a 40-10 result,which was a big lead for the Irish ahead of England’s showdown with France; itmeant that the Red Rose would need to beat the French at Twickenham by 26points, to deny the Thistle of their second consecutive crown.

This was beyondthe reach of England, who later beat France 55-35, but ended second on points’difference.

Scotland were winless after four matches, and werecondemned to the Wooden Spoon for their last-place finish.