PARIS (AFP) - The climax to the final day of the Six Nations rugby tournament was labelled "Super Saturday" and for once, it lived up to the hype as 221 points were scored.
Several records tumbled too as 27 tries were scored, eventual winners Ireland scored 40 points for the first time in an away Six Nations game, unlucky England put a record 55 points past the French - who became only the second side to score over 30 points and lose - and Wales became the first side to score seven tries in one half.
Here are five key moments in those matches:
1. North's 10-minute rampage: Winger George North hadn't scored a try in four Tests prior to the game with Italy but just like the old aphorism of "waiting for a London bus for hours and then three come along at the same time", he rediscovered his ability to cross the tryline. Admittedly, the Italians did everything in their power to help Wales on their way in the second half but North needed no second asking. Two down the left wing and then one almost under the posts after he came off his wing in a devastating 10-minute period left the Italians shattered and instilled real hope for the Welsh they could take the title.
2. Sarto's nasty last-minute surprise: Italy winger Leonardo Sarto had had a day to forget like most of his team-mates - he made a woeful attempt to tackle Welsh scrum-half Rhys Webb for the latter's try. However, his excellent converted try almost on the final whistle - which came from an Italian counter-attack out of their own 22 - crucially gave both the Irish and the English a ray of hope as it reduced what their winning margins had to be by seven points (21 instead of 28, and 17 instead of 24). "Hope that doesn't cost us the championship," said Wales coach Warren Gatland. Statistically, it didn't - Ireland had 10 points over the Welsh - but it was the psychological boost it gave their title rivals that cost them.
3. Ireland's warrior king sets the tone: Paul O'Connell is, at 35, Ireland's oldest-ever captain but it seems he, like a fine wine or perhaps more aptly a keg of Guinness, gets better with age. He capped another outstanding campaign - perhaps his best in the green jersey - by giving the Irish the perfect start in their daunting task of overhauling Wales' points advantage with a try in the fifth minute against the Scots at Murrayfield. It sparked a record-equalling victory margin over the Scots of 40-10 and to being presented with the trophy as darkness descended on Edinburgh. "I hope not" came his reply when asked the routine question if it was his last Six Nations match - there could not be a finer way, though, to have bowed out.
4. Heaslip's Championship-saving tackle: Hard to imagine that just over a month ago, Irish No. 8 Jamie Heaslip suffered fractured vertebrae as a result of a disgraceful knee in the back by France lock Pascal Pape. He was back for the defeat by Wales but he shone against the Scots in the Edinburgh sunshine and produced the tackle that ultimately could have won the title. The Scots' impressive full-back Stuart Hogg twisted and turned his way to beating several Irish defenders and looked certain to score a try late in the match until Heaslip hit him hard enough so he dropped the ball over the line - had he grounded the ball and the try been converted, England would have won the title by a point.
5. Haskell's moment of madness: James Haskell has quite rightly earned plaudits for redeeming himself after the collective England debacle on and off the pitch at the 2011 World Cup and regained his place in the starting XV. However, all that hard work went to waste when acting more like a rookie than a man with over 50 caps, he raised his leg to trip France fly-half Jules Plisson and earned a yellow card in the 57th minute. It came at a critical juncture, the French scored two tries in that 10-minute period although the English got one of their own. However, the manner in which the English were running their opponents ragged at the time of the sin-binning must make fans and coaching staff think, "What if?"