THE Triple Crown, a championship title and a rosy future for England. All in all, not a bad way to end the season. We were not faultless, not by any stretch of the imagination, but we started to implement stuff which we had only previously talked about and the mood in the camp last night was euphoric.
The title is a bonus. None of us even considered it was on beforehand, because we were utterly focused on dealing with the inevitable early Irish storm. It lasted about half an hour longer than we had expected. Although we ran the ball a lot in the first half we were never able to get away because they were always in our faces, raring to tackle.
But Dean Richards had said beforehand that this would happen. He warned that it would feel as though Ireland had 17 people playing because they are everywhere. And it was like that at times. You thought you had got through a gap and you were whacked from nowhere. But we adapted well. We tightened up our game, catching the ball rather than tapping at the line-outs. We really did roll on well and by the second half we had run enough energy out of them to pull clear in the fourth quarter.
We played a more balanced game. Although we had a look for holes outside they had tightened up since the Wales game, their forwards fanning quickly. But we did not panic, we drove the ball on and then looked to use Jon Sleightholme inside. Give Jon half a yard and you can forget it. As he showed with his try he has got extreme pace.
Twickenham is a wonderful place when the supporters are in good voice and it was just nice after what, at times, has been a frustrating season, to be able to throw caution to the wind and bring the win which means an awful lot to Will Carling.
The standing ovation for Will both at the start and when he was carried off was a fitting tribute. Despite the game going wrong for him personally it was a chance for the supporters to show their appreciation for what he has done as captain over the past eight years.
My 23 points were tremendously pleasing. All season I have tried to repay the faith shown by the England management.
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