Ireland must improve on ‘scrappy’ Wales win to topple England – Robbie Henshaw

By Sports Desk February 25, 2024

Robbie Henshaw insists Grand Slam-chasing Ireland must improve on a “scrappy” win over Wales in order to topple England at “cauldron” Twickenham.

Andy Farrell’s men kept themselves on course for successive Guinness Six Nations clean sweeps by registering a third consecutive bonus-point victory with Saturday’s 31-7 triumph in Dublin.

Ireland raced into a 17-0 half-time lead but then endured some nervy moments against Warren Gatland’s unfancied visitors before running out resounding victors.

The reigning champions have a fortnight’s break for fine tuning ahead of taking on Steve Borthwick’s side in south-west London on March 9.

“We knew Wales had nothing to lose and they threw the kitchen sink at us,” said Henshaw, who came off the bench in a 32-15 win away to England in the 2022 championship.

“The game itself was quite scrappy and we got momentum and it then stalled a bit.

“The fact we finished strong was a positive for us and it sets us up nicely for the next few weeks.

“Twickenham’s always a tricky place to go. It’s always that kind of cauldron environment.

“The last time we played there we had a good result but it’s going to be a tough game. We’ll have to get better again.”

Tries from Dan Sheehan, James Lowe, Ciaran Frawley and Tadhg Beirne, plus 11 points from the boot of Jack Crowley, were sufficient to comfortably dispatch Wales.

Ireland are now the only team yet to lose in this year’s tournament after England were beaten 30-21 in their Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland on Saturday evening.

The Scots are due to visit the Aviva Stadium on the final weekend.

Henshaw says Grand Slam talk will remain muted for the time being.

“It (back-to-back Grand Slams) is out there but we’re literally taking it game to game and training session to training session,” he said.

“Our next focus will be England and putting in a huge performance there.

“That (the Grand Slam) is in the background. We need to be looking at England and probably no further.”

Henshaw has played all-but 17 minutes of Ireland’s campaign so far on the back of a frustrating World Cup, severely hampered by injury.

The 30-year-old, who has partnered both Bundee Aki and Stuart McCloskey amid the injury absence of Garry Ringrose, is pleased to be back on track at Test level and feels midfield competition is fierce.

“Form comes with minutes you play and the more games you play, probably the better you will get,” he said.

“For me, the positive thing is just getting that run of games with Leinster and then into this campaign. It’s great to have back-to-back games and just building on it.

“Everyone who’s been playing this season has been on fire for their club.

“We’re blessed that we have such talent in the country that Stuart McCloskey last week stepped in and did an unbelievable job and Bundee’s been bringing his World Cup form through to this season.

“We’re in a great place with the talent we have and it’s great to see the performances being put on the pitch.”

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