Johnny Sexton: Ireland captain says his side are yet to show they can put in a performance to beat top teams

Johnny Sexton says Ireland have not yet proven they can “put in a performance to beat one of the top teams”.

The fly-half kicked the winning penalty as Ireland resisted a late fightback from Scotland for a victory that puts them second in the Six Nations Standings.

It is Ireland’s second consecutive victory after beating Italy on the back of losses to Wales and France in the first two rounds of the Championship.

Up next for Ireland is the visit of England in Dublin, and asked if he had seen enough evidence recently to suggest his team could put in the performance they need against Eddie Jones’ side, Sexton said: “We’ll find out next Saturday, won’t we?

“We feel that we have been building, that we were a bit unlucky in the first couple of games, but even though [England] have had a couple of bad results they are a team that was in the World Cup final and won the Grand Slam last year.

“They won the Autumn Nations Cup so they are a top, top team and we have to prove that we can match them and put in a performance to beat one of the top teams because we haven’t done it as of yet.”

The 35-year-old indicated he would keep playing, amid speculation among fans as to how long he could continue to imprint his will to win on a side whose form has risen and fallen with him over the years.

“What are my aspirations? Keep on winning, hopefully. I’ll see how I feel this time next year,” he said.

“I’m really enjoying my rugby, I’m enjoying the coaching in the Irish set-up and at Leinster. I am excited to go to training every day.”

Coach Andy Farrell hailed his side’s resilience and determination after young replacement Ryan Baird showed Ireland’s depth in the pack, charging down a 75th-minute kick to halt Scotland’s attempt at a late winner.

“To hold them out like we were doing for so long…and they get the try… to have the composure and the reset mindset to go again, and come up with a special play from young Ryan the blockage, get the turnover ball, and kick the goal… to take the win here by three points, we’ll certainly take that,” he said.

Ireland have no hope of winning this year’s Six Nations, but the return to form of some key players is a sign that they are on an upward trajectory.

Alongside Sexton their other talismanic leader of the last decade, scrum-half Conor Murray, was an unused substitute on Sunday.

Farrell said this was due to his being among several backs carrying injuries into the game and that nothing should be read into Jamison Gibson-Park being on for the full 80 minutes.

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