John Cooney’s late try may not have had any bearing on the outcome of the titanic tussle between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium, nor did it rescue a losing bonus point for the hosts, but it did prevent them relinquishing second place in the World Rugby Rankings to their victors.
Leading 32-13 with barely a minute to go, England were on course to leapfrog 2018’s World Rugby Team of the Year but Cooney’s consolation effort reduced the margin between the teams sufficiently for Ireland to hold onto their status as New Zealand’s nearest rivals in the rankings.
However, the 32-20 defeat, Ireland's first at home in the Six Nations for six years, cost them 1.8 rating points, and with England getting an identical amount in return the gap between the two teams is down to just 1.36 points. The All Blacks’ lead at the top has increased to 3.17 points.
England’s four tries to two victory sees them move above Wales - despite a record-breaking comeback from the men in red in Paris - and into third place.
Wales started the weekend 1.02 points and one place ahead of England in the rankings but with only three-tenths of a point on offer for their victory over the lower-ranked French, and England profiting to the tune of 1.8 points, they have now slipped below Eddie Jones’ men.
France, who surrendered a 16-0 half-time lead in losing 24-19, an unprecedented turn of events in Six Nations history, are also down one place to 10th, their joint lowest ranking since they were introduced in October 2003, with Argentina the beneficiaries.
George North’s and Henry Slade’s try doubles were eclipsed by Scotland winger Blair Kinghorn, who became the first Scotland player to score a Six Nations hat-trick.
Kinghorn’s treble and tries from Stuart Hogg and Chris Harris secured a 33-20 win against slow-starting Italy who came to life late on to score three times in seven minutes and come close to snatching a losing bonus point.
With over nine rating points between the sides before kick-off, the result had no impact on the rankings.
The only other change to the rankings came as a result of Uruguay’s 20-17 win against Canada in the opening round of the Americas Rugby Championship.
Having played with 14 men for 64 minutes, Los Teros snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a try in the dying seconds. With only 0.31 of a rating point on offer, Uruguay were not able to move any higher than their current position of 17th, while Canada stay 20th.
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