England 18 Ireland 7
ANDY Farrell’s Ireland succumbed to a defeat to Eddie Jones’ England in the Autumn Nations Cup Round 2 tie at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon, and despite having way more ball than their hosts they never looked like cracking them.
While Ireland went through the phases they really struggled to get over the gainline due to the relentlessness of the English blitz defence, and overall the Irish pack and their strong ball carrying centres struggled to impose themselves on their opponents, with Peter O’Mahony arguably being Ireland’s best performer on the day.
The opening quarter of an hour saw the two sizes cancelling each other out, but the English scrum then won a penalty around half way and England captain Owen Farrell kicked into the Irish 22 to give them their first real attacking opportunity.
They soon had themselves a penalty advantage so Farrell chanced a high kick to the corner, where winger Johnny May fielded the ball high over Hugo Keenan’s head and grounded the ball for his 30th international try in the 17th minute.
Ireland almost immediately worked a penalty deep into the English 22 but a terrible over throw by Irish hooker Ronan Kelleher coughed up possession. And when England ran the ball left that man May found a huge hole past a despairing Chris Farrell.
He kicked the ball deep into Irish territory he was always going to emerge the winner of a straight foot race against scrum half Jamison Gibson-Park and he dotted down under the posts in the 21st minute. That put England into an early 12-0 lead, which they took into the half time break.
Ireland struggled in many areas in the opening half. Kelleher was having a nightmare out of touch trying to find his jumpers.
Ireland were also getting turned over by the jackal machines that are Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Maro Itoje at the breakdown, and Ireland’s overall discipline was so poor that referee Pascal Gaüzère asked Ireland captain James Ryan to have a word with his players as early as the 34th minute in order to change their behaviour.
Ireland had a let-off in the 38th minute when Gibson-Park was nabbed near his own tryline by Sam Underhill and the powerful England blindside ripped the ball from the Leinster man’s grasp and dotted down. The try was disallowed as Underhill had been the tackler and therefore should have released.
Ireland started the second half brightly yet it was England who scored first through an Owen Farrell penalty in the 46th minute after Irish second row Quinn Roux had been whistled for swinging England openside Tom Curry around the neck at ruck time.
And when Farrell slotted another routine penalty in the 52nd minute the game was well and truly getting away from Ireland.
Despite having more possession than their hosts Ireland really struggled to breach the excellent English defence, with Maro Itoje immense in stealing ball on the floor when Ireland looked like getting over for a try before the hour mark.
In the 69th minute, Chris Farrell seemed certain to score when he collected a little dink through by outhalf Ross Byrne, but he rolled rather than slid and managed to get held up over the line.
It must be noted that Ireland were starting to see more joy when they started to kick in behind the onrushing England defence in the second half.
Ireland finally got some reward for their efforts when they scored a delightful try in the 74th minute.
Replacement outhalf Billy Burns sent a tantalising chip over the English defence and his Ulster teammate Jacob Stockdale charged onto the kick, caught it and showed a delightful change of angle to run it in next to the English posts, but it was little more than a consolation try.
Farrell (2 pens, 1 con), May (2 tries).
Burns (1 con), Stockdale (1 try).
Daly; Joseph, Lawrence, Slade, May; Farrell (capt), Youngs; B. Vunipola, Underhill, Curry, Launchbury, Itoje, Sinckler, George, B. Vunipola.
Genge, Earl and Robson for B. Vunipola, Underhill and Youngs (63), Malins for Joseph (72), Ford and Hill for Farrell and Launchbury (71), Dunn for George (79).
Keenan, Earls, Farrell, Aki, Lowe, Byrne, Gibson-Park; Doris, O’Mahony, Stander, Ryan (capt), Roux, Porter, Kelleher, Healy.
Murray, Henderson and Herring for Gibson-Park, Roux and Kelleher (51), Stockdale for Keenan (58), Connors and Bealham for Stander and Healy (66), Burns for Byrne (72).
Pascal Gaüzère (Fra)