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Ireland knock the wheels off the record-seeking Chariots?

By Aidan Corr
in Aviva Stadium
RBS Six Nations:
Ireland 13, England 9
NO Murray, no Heaslip, no problem!
Superior up front and way ahead when it came to spirit, grit and attitude, Ireland dampened England’s RBS Championship celebrations, killed off their 19-in-a-row ambitions and buried their Triple Crown aspirations with as good a performance as we have seen from them over the past few seasons. Peter O’Mahony was superb, his contribution throughout the field and particularly in the lineout, crucial to this victory and he was deservedly named man of the match.
Leading 10-3 at the break, Ireland appeared comfortable as the second half got into its stride. Andrew Conway had come on for his first (well deserved) cap in place of Keith Earls and when England did put together a promising move, right wing Anthony Watson dropped a bread and butter pass that must have added to Eddie Jones’ grief. England then forced a penalty on 50 minutes from which Owen Farrell reduced the lead to 10-6 and the momentum was now with the visitors. Their pack began to get on top, forcing two penalties at the maul, but they failed to capitalise. Jared Payne burst through two tackles to set up the next attack for the Irish but when Itoje went offside, Sexton landed a beauty from left of the posts and on the ten metre line to restore Ireland’s seven point advantage with 18 minutes left to play.
The English turned up the heat with a 15 metre maul that resulted in a penalty, Owen Farrell setting up an interesting finale to bring the score back to 13-9 on 67 minutes. The England scrum was getting the nudge and after a hectic period in the middle of the field, Ireland were again penalised and Owen Farrell’s plenalty, this time went for the lineout, which the Irish snatched on the 22. The dying inutes were tense but with every passing second Ireland lifted their effort to finish worthy winners.
There was a bit of drama at the start with the kick-off delayed for three minutes because of the late running of the France v Wales game. Minutes before the teams took the field, Jamie Heaslip cried off and was replaced by Peter O’Mahony and dropped passes by Jared Payne and Mike Browne added to the chaos. The chamions-elect looked off the pace in that oplening period and Ireland took advantage. Jared Payne threw a nice looped pass to Keith Earls but when it looked as if the Limerickman would add to his rising try-count at this level,the ball was knocked forward. Referee Garces called play back for an Irish penalty and Sexton put his side 3-0 up after nine minutes. Ireland then had Rory Best off for a temporary injury treatment, replaced by Niall Scannell and it was the turn of the English side to test the home defence. An Owen Farrell penalty on 16 minutes levelled the tie.
Intense Irish pressure, which saw scrum half Marmion shovel out well over a dozen passes from the base of continuous rucks, was eventually rewarded when Ian Henderson got over for a well-deserved try, converted by Jonathan Sexton to give the home side a 10-3 lead with 23 minutes played.
England’s woes continued with Lawes dropping the simplest of passes. The tempo of the game raised a few digits after that with England setting up a try chance that they again messed up and Ireland set up further good territory coming up to the 30 minute mark. Ireland were ferocious at the breakdown and in the loose with Rory Best, Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien constantly making good yardage. England put in a rare asssault on the Irish line with the final plays of the game but it was Ireland 10, England 3 at the break.
Ireland XV: J Payne (Ulster), K Earls (Munster), G Ringrose, R Henshaw (both Leinster), S Zebo (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster), D Ryan (Munster), I Henderson (Ulster), CJ Stander (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster).
Replacements: N Scannell (Munster) for Best 70, C Healy (Leinster) for McGrath 59, J Ryan (Munster), D Toner (Leinster) for Ryan 65, , L McGrath (Leinster) for Marmion 69, P Jackson (Ulster), A Conway (Munster) for Earls 40, Dan Leahy for O’Brien 67.
England XV: M Brown (Harlequins); A Watson (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), O Farrell (Saracens), E Daly (Wasps); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins) D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester), J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton), M Itoje (Saracens), J Haskell (Wasps), B Vunipola (Saracens) for Marler 40..
Replacements: J George (Saracens) for Hartley 55, M Vunipola (Saracens), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Wood (Northampton) for Haskel 59, N Hughes (Wasps) for B Vunipol 62, A, D Care (Harlequins) for Youngs 64, B Te’o (Worcester) for Ford 62, J Nowell (Exeter) for Joseph 68..
Referee, Jerome Garces, Franc.

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