Ireland beat England in Twickenham to keep their Six Nations hopes alive

Bonus point success gives Andy Farrell's side a chance to catch leaders France
Ireland beat England in Twickenham to keep their Six Nations hopes alive

Ireland's Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray celebrate Jack Conan scoring their second try. Picture: INPHO/Billy Stickland

England 15 Ireland 32 

IRELAND secured a bonus-point Six Nations victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday evening to keep their championship challenge alive heading into the final weekend, but the performance against an England side that played almost the entire game with 14 men was not one to write home about.

It looked as though the game was effectively ruined as a spectacle after only 80 seconds when England second row Charlie Ewels received a deserved straight red card when his head clumsily collided directly with James Ryan’s head in a botched attempted tackle, and the resultant penalty allowed Johnny Sexton to open the scoring from 35m. Credit to England for making it a right Test match.

Ireland scored the opening try in the fifth minute when the Leinster pair of Dan Sheehan and Josh van der Flier combined down to the left to put their provincial teammate James Lowe in the clear and the left-wing raced away to easily score in the corner.

Ireland were dominant early on, but the one area of concern for Ireland was their scrum, as they conceded a number of penalties from pressure on the tighthead side, which allowed out-half Marcus Smith to get England on the board with an 18th-minute penalty.

Ireland's Tadhg Furlong is tackled by England's Sam Simmonds. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
Ireland's Tadhg Furlong is tackled by England's Sam Simmonds. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Ireland’s discipline was becoming a serious issue with penalties being conceded at scrums, lineouts and for lazy offsides, and even though Smith left Ireland off the hook with a missed 29th minute penalty he made no mistake in the 32nd minute, to reduce the deficit to just 6-8.

Ireland got back on track with their second try in the 38th minute when Jamison Gibson-Park took a quick tap penalty close to the England line and fed the supporting full-back Hugo Keenan to crash over after the impressive hooker Sheehan had been extremely influential in the build-up.

England did have the final say in the half, however, as Smith landed his third penalty of the half to leave the score at 9-15 at the break.

Ireland had a couple of really good attacking opportunities at the start of the second half but speculative offload attempts from Lowe, Tadhg Beirne and Tadhg Furlong all went to the deck and considering England’s complete dominance at scrum time, each knock-on was to serve as an easy exit for the home side.

Ireland could have got themselves more than a score ahead early in the second half but instead, they saw 14-man England close the gap to three with another Smith penalty in the 53rd minute.

In the 59th minute, Keenan knocked on a soaring Smith garryowen straight in front of the posts and the resultant scrum was almost a formality – a sixth scrum penalty for England and a fifth Smith penalty to level the scores.

Andrew Conway then engineered a brilliant attacking platform for Ireland in the 53rd minute with his second sublime 50-22 kick of the match, and a couple of minutes later when England infringed on their own line Sexton slotted to restore Ireland’s tentative lead.

England’s Ben Youngs clears from Jack Conan of Ireland. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
England’s Ben Youngs clears from Jack Conan of Ireland. Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Ireland kept stretching England and eventually they gave way after Ireland created room for Conway to make huge yardage out on the right, and even though the scrambling England defence halted the Munster winger just short, a quick recycle allowed Conor Murray to feed Jack Conan to crash over for the match-winning try in the 73rd minute.

England had put up huge resistance, but playing the entire match down a man finally began to tell late on, and a second try in three minutes for Ireland secured the win while also bagging Ireland what could be an important bonus point as replacement prop Finlay Bealham crashed over off the back of an attacking maul.

Scorers for England: Smith (5 pens).

Ireland: Sexton (2 pens, 3 cons), Lowe, Keenan, Conan, Bealham (1 try each).

ENGLAND: Steward; Malins, Marchant, Slade, Nowell; Smith, Randall; Genge, George, Sinckler; Itoje, Ewels; Lawes (c), Curry, Simmons. 

Subs: Dombrandt for Curry (14), Stuart for Sinckler (40), Youngs for Randall (53), Marler and Launchbury for Genge and Dombrandt (66), Daly for Marchant (70), Blamire and Ford for George and Steward (79).

IRELAND: Keenan; Conway, Ringrose, Aki, Lowe; Sexton (capt), Gibson-Park; Healy, Sheehan, Furlong; Beirne, Ryan; O'Mahony, van der Flier, Doris.

Subs: Henderson for Ryan (2), Kilcoyne and Herring for Healy and Sheehan (53), Conan for O’Mahony (61), Henshaw for Aki (66), Murray for Gibson-Park (67), Bealham for Furlong (74), Carbery for Sexton (79).

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)

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