England endure and then outclass injury-plagued Ireland
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | February 27, 2016
England 21-10 Ireland
- Farrell penalties see Red Rose come from behind to lead 6-3 at half-time
- Haskell sin-binned early in second-half for dangerous tackle
- Scrum half Murray burrows over for Irish opener
- Watson restores England lead with try before hour
- Brown found from home lineout for second Red Rose crossing
- Henshaw denied try by nifty Nowell interception
- Care also in bin at end for not rolling away
Red Rose continues to bloom on Jones’ Twickenham debut
England twice came from behind to beat injury-hit Ireland at Twickenham and keep their hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam alive thanks to second-half tries from Anthony Watson and Mike Brown.
Red Rose boss Eddie Jones, 11/10 with Coral to go unbeaten in the competition, made his home bow in the dugout and witnessed a rugby game of two halves.
Although his side were frustrated throughout the first 40, they broke stubborn Irish resistance after the interval to run out 21-10 winners.
Visiting defence holds firm
Ireland punished their hosts early on when Dan Cole collapsed a scrum, and Johnny Sexton put the first penalty over the posts. Owen Farrell did likewise to level when CJ Stander refused to roll away.
England’s endeavour did not have the first-half try they craved, however, thanks to some brilliant last-ditch defending from the visitors. Man of the match Billy Vunipola twice burst forward and it took three green shirts to bundle the big man into touch one the more notable occasion.
Red Rose captain Dylan Hartley then fell short of the tryline, with no clear evidence of grounding over it when reviewed by the TMO. James Haskell became the next home player to be thwarted when seeking to cross, with Rory Best leading the Irish by example.
Jones’ side did go in ahead 6-3, however, as Farrell kicked another penalty – having missed earlier following an obstruction by Robbie Henshaw, but atoned with another attempt after good work at the breakdown.
Ireland get first try, but England cross twice
Conor Murray led an immediate response from Ireland, being the victim of a dangerous Haskell tackle that saw the flanker sin-binned before burrowing over for a try straight out of the scrum.
Sexton converted to restore the Irish to an 6-10 advantage, yet this contest turned because of tries either side of the hour mark.
Farrell reduced England arrears to a single point with a third penalty when Devin Toner took his man out, but clever switches of play first from right to left and then vice versa establishing a commanding Red Rose lead of 21-10.
Switches of play end Ireland hopes
Winger Watson went over in one corner with Farrell failing to convert, but that hardly mattered as swift offloads from a lineout in the next English attack found full back Brown to bound clear and cross. Farrell made no mistake with this second conversion.
Henshaw hoped to lead an Irish response, but an outstanding last-ditch covering tackle from Jack Nowell brought him into touch and the ball out of the centre’s grasp just short of the tryline, a TMO review confirmed.
Another Ireland attack featuring debutants Josh van der Flier and Ultan Dillane was also thwarted, and they were given hope as home replacement Danny Care went in the bin for the final 10 minutes for not rolling away.
England move on to Wales
Red Rose debutant Elliot Daly tried to deny Van der Flier and did just enough, as no evidence on another TMO review showed the visiting flanker grounding the ball.
A real acid test awaits Jones’ charges next, though, with fellow unbeaten side Wales (6/4 from 11/8 to scoop the Six Nations title) in London.
Joe Schmidt, meanwhile, get the Irish back to winning ways against Italy, who were also in action earlier on Saturday…
Scots stop rot against Azzurri
The Tartan Army have had to wait more than two years but, finally at the 10th attempt, Scotland won a Six Nations game, running out 20-36 winners in Rome.
Hosts Italy fell to Vern Cotter’s crew thanks to John Barclay, John Hardie and Tommy Seymour tries, plus some proficient kicking from Greig Laidlaw, and despite second-half sin-binnings for Finn Russell and WP Nel.
Jacques Brunel’s Azzurri made things interesting with forwards Leonardo Ghiraldini and Marco Fuser crossing before Seymour sealed things with a late converted try.
For more Six Nations reports, previews and comment, check out Coral’s rugby union section.