Ireland moved one step closer to retaining their Six Nations crown with a 19-9 victory over England in Dublin on Sunday.
It was billed as a title decider – it couldn't have been much more decisive. The reigning Six Nations champions were far and away the better team, and must now surely be considered as more than 'dark horses' for World Cup honours later this year.
There's still the small issue of a trip to Cardiff in a fortnight, but on the evidence of this performance they shouldn't have any problems seeing off Warren Gatland's side.
By the time Johnny Sexton made his way from the park in the 53rd minute with the score at 19-3, the damage had been done. He's a player at the top of his game at the moment, and he tormented the English with his ability to take the ball to the line, his probing kicks and his reliable goal-kicking. His massive hit on opposite number George Ford near the end of the first half exemplified the Irish resolve.
England weren't given a second on the ball and receded in the face of the Irish onslaught. They were guilty at times of trying to play from too deep when putting boot to ball would've been a better option.
They will welcome back some experienced campaigners before the World Cup commences in September, but they lacked the individual performances that were on display across the board for Ireland.
Devin Toner was massive in the lineouts, Conor Murray managed the game superbly from scrumhalf, while Robbie Henshaw deservedly picked up a try for his all-action display.
Ireland lost some of their composure after Sexton's withdrawal, but they showed great defensive resolve to keep England tryless despite a late rally.
They will take all the momentum into the clash with Wales in Cardiff, while few would bet against them being in line for a Grand Slam when they close out the tournament against Scotland at Murrayfield on 21 March.
Ireland – Try: Robbie Henshaw. Conversion: Jonathan Sexton. Penalties: Sexton (4).
England – Drop goal: George Ford. Penalties: George Ford (2).
Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Felix Jones.
England – 15 Alex Goode, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 James Haskell, 5 George Kruis, 4 David Attwood, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Subs: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Nick Easter, 20 Tom Croft, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images