Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match Robbie Henshaw says his side used the ample motivation at their disposal to inspire them to their 32-18 victory over England in Dublin.
First-half tries from Keith Earls and Jack Conan, alongside 22 points from Johnny Sexton, proved enough in a much-improved performance to see Andy Farrell’s side to their third win of the Championship.
Ben Youngs and Jonny May added late tries with Bundee Aki sent off but even that could not take the gloss off the perfect way to end the Guinness Six Nations for Ireland.
And inside centre Henshaw, who shined under the high ball and with his constant energy, believes his side put on the perfect display for the retiring CJ Stander, their fans watching at home and themselves as they continue to build under Farrell.
“For us as a group it was very important that we finished on as high a note as possible for a number of reasons,” Henshaw said.
“For CJ [Stander] mainly, he’s offered so much to this team. Secondly, for the fans at home, who can’t be here, we wanted to give them something good to cheer about from the couch.
“And for us, as a collective. We were unbelievably disappointed with the opening two games and we were almost there, just a few different things cost us.
“It’s all about showing the heights we can hit when we’re on and I suppose showing where we can go down the line and in the future.”
It was an ‘emotional’ day for Ireland as a stalwart in Stander waved goodbye to the Championship but they channelled that perfectly as they bamboozled Eddie Jones’ men.
Their first-half display was superb in its verve and aggression, Earls showing off his pace to score after a deliberately overthrown lineout.
Then, a swift team move resulted in a perfect pick-and-go from Conan as England simply didn’t know what hit them.
“Everyone together as a whole [was the key]. It was a massively emotional performance for those reasons,” Henshaw added.
“You’re playing England at the end of the day so you have to be up for that. It’s one of the biggest games of the year for us, and just the history of the previous games and what a contest it always has been.
“Hopefully we showed it there and it was a good performance from us.”