Six Nations 2019: Six key wins for Ireland during Joe Schmidt's time in charge

By Cian MurtaghBBC Sport NI
Ireland have a 74% win ratio during Joe Schmidt's six years in charge
Ireland have won 49 out of their 66 games under head coach Joe Schmidt
Six Nations: Wales v Ireland
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 16 March Kick-off: 14:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One and S4C, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Joe Schmidt takes charge of Ireland in the Six Nations for the final time on Saturday as he attempts to win a fourth title during his six years at the helm.

The New Zealander plans to step down after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Having won a Grand Slam in 2018 and back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, Schmidt's side can claim another trophy if results fall their way on Saturday.

Ireland must stop Wales' Grand Slam bid in Cardiff and also hope that Scotland upset England to retain their title.

Here we take a look back at some of Ireland's stand-out Six Nations matches of the Schmidt era.

Ireland 26-3 Wales - Saturday, 8 February 2014

Six Nations 2014: Ireland 26-3 Wales - highlights

Even more so than the comprehensive win against Scotland the previous week, this victory over defending champions Wales confirmed that Ireland would be a force to be reckoned with under Schmidt.

Johnny Sexton scored 14 points as Ireland's kick-and-contest tactics began to emerge, with wings Andrew Trimble and Dave Kearney wreaking havoc under the high ball.

It was Wales' first away defeat in the Six Nations since 2011 and the first time in five years that Ireland began the championship with back-to-back victories.

France 20-22 Ireland - Saturday, 15 March 2014

Extended highlights: France 20-22 Ireland

Ireland gave the retiring Brian O'Driscoll the perfect send-off with a thrilling victory in Paris to clinch their first title in five years in Schmidt's first season in charge.

Sexton and Trimble both crossed for tries as Ireland edged out England on points difference at the top of the table.

In a gripping tussle at the Stade de France, the home side missed a late penalty and saw a last-gasp try ruled out as Ireland clung on, and O'Driscoll was able to add one final honour to his legendary Test career.

Scotland 10-40 Ireland - Saturday, 21 March 2015

Six Nations 2015: Ireland beat Scotland to win championship

Ireland won back-to-back Six Nations titles for the first time after a dominant display in Edinburgh, followed by a nail-biting wait to see if England could overtake them in a thrilling climax to the 2015 championship.

Wales had set the points target earlier in the day before a rampant Ireland ripped through Scotland with two tries for Sean O'Brien, as well as scores by Paul O'Connell and Jared Payne. But Jamie Heaslip's try-saving tackle on Stuart Hogg proved crucial as England won against France but fell just short of Ireland's overall points tally.

Hours after the full-time whistle, the Irish squad returned to the pitch at Murrayfield to lift the trophy in their suits as Schmidt's aura of invincibility continued to grow.

Ireland 13-9 England - Saturday, 18 March 2017

Iain Henderson scores Ireland's try in their 13-9 win over England in 2017
Iain Henderson scored the only try as Ireland halted England's 18-match winning streak

The disappointment of Ireland's World Cup quarter-final defeat by Argentina carried over into the 2016 Six Nations as Schmidt began the process of expanding his squad, but the side showed some signs of what was to come with this gritty victory in Dublin to deny England a second consecutive Grand Slam.

Iain Henderson's try proved enough as Ireland enjoyed over 60% possession and territory - another indication of their evolving style of play under Schmidt - while Peter O'Mahony's inspirational performance was rewarded with the British and Irish Lions' captaincy for the first Test against New Zealand later that year.

The victory meant Ireland finished second in the 2017 table, while England tasted defeat under Eddie Jones for the first time.

France 13-15 Ireland - Saturday, 3 February 2018

'Le Drop' - Johnny Sexton rescues Ireland with dramatic drop-goal against France

Johnny Sexton's audacious 83rd minute drop-goal after 41 phases of play rescued Ireland's Grand's Slam bid at the first hurdle.

Ireland dominated their hosts at the Stade de France, but somehow led by a mere six points when French wing Teddy Thomas scored a superb try to give his side the lead with time running out.

But the Irish pack slowly battered and bullied their way into French territory before Sexton stepped up to land a 45-metre kick that crept over the bar and put Ireland on course for a clean sweep.

England 15-24 Ireland - Saturday, 17 March 2018

Jacob Stockdale finished the 2018 Six Nations with a record seven tries
Jacob Stockdale scored his seventh try of the 2018 championship as Ireland beat England to win the Grand Slam

If the opening round win in Paris had given Ireland the belief that they could clinch their third Grand Slam title, this victory at Twickenham proved that they were worthy winners.

The performance, particularly in the first 40 minutes, is still held up as being one of the best by Schmidt's Ireland as tries from Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Jacob Stockdale sent the travelling supporters into Nirvana on St Patrick's Day.

A first series win over Australia in almost 40 years and a first victory against New Zealand on home soil would follow as Ireland climbed to second place in the world rankings.

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