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England Denied Six Nations Grand Slam in Loss to Ireland

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- England was denied its first Six Nations rugby Grand Slam in eight years after losing its final game to Ireland 24-8, but still claimed the title after Wales lost 28-9 to France.

England finished with eight points after winning its first four games. Defending champion France, Ireland and Wales had six points each, followed by Scotland and Italy with two apiece.

Though Wales would have had eight points if it won in Paris, the English were virtually assured of the title because of a better points difference. That put the English focus on completing a perfect run through the tournament -- known as the Grand Slam.

“You don’t want to seem ungracious but we missed out on the big one today,” England captain Nick Easter told the British Broadcasting Corp. after receiving the Six Nations trophy at the team hotel in Dublin. “I guess it’s a little bit of a reward for the strides we made this year.”

The past three champions -- Wales, Ireland and France --all did the Grand Slam.

“I said to the boys, we take it on the chin,” England coach Martin Johnson told the BBC after the game. “We certainly got beat today. It’s disappointing because they worked hard to get where we wanted to get.”

‘Very, Very Good’

Tommy Bowe and Brian O’Driscoll touched down as Ireland outscored England two tries to one at Aviva Stadium. Jonathan Sexton kicked 14 points for the Irish, who led 17-3 at halftime.

“We knew it was in us,” O’Driscoll, who scored his record 25th Six Nations try, told the BBC. “For some reason it didn’t happen in the first four (games). Today we were very, very good.”

Lionel Nallet scored two tries as France took second place on points difference over Ireland and Wales. James Hook kicked three penalties for Wales, which dropped to fourth place with the defeat.

Scotland beat Italy 21-8 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh for its first win in this year’s competition.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at bbensch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net.

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