England 13 Ireland 10: Three talking points
England 13 Ireland 10: Three talking points as the hosts secure victory after a thrilling match at Twickenham
May comes close in tense Twickenham start
Befitting a match which carries such tradition for England and Ireland, it was a tense start at Twickenham. Stuart Lancaster decided to allow his squad to soak up the support of the Red Rose fans as England left the team bus and walked 100-odd metres to the stadium amid a chorus of ‘Swing Low’. It appeared to work as the hosts made a blistering start. Ireland were pegged inside their own 22 as England probed for a gap and their patience appeared to pay off when they constructed a numerical advantage on the right. However, Jonny May opted to touch down with his right arm opposed to diving over the line and recovering Irish duo Conor Murray and Andrew Trimble managed to smuggle the ball out of the England No11’s hand. After that flurry of Red Rose action, it took England another 18 minutes before registering the first points of the game as Owen Farrell slotted over after a Paul O’Connell infringement at an English lineout.
‘A game of two halves’
After 40 minutes of few try-scoring chances, Ireland crossed the line within seconds of the restart as England were caught out by a Leinster-like set-move. With the visitors having a lineout just inside the English 22, Devin Toner’s tap down was collected by Jamie Heaslip, who off-loaded to Rob Kearney and the Ireland No15 danced by a couple of England defenders to touch down between the posts. Jonny Sexton converted to hand the away side a four-point lead. In stark contrast to the first half, England went down the other end and responded almost immediately. Billy Twelvetrees broke but May failed to seize his chance with the Irish defence scrambling. However, the hosts failed to take their chance and Ireland were awarded a penalty. An English infringement moments later allowed Sexton extend the Irish lead to four points.
BOD secure cap 139 as Brown is England’s star – again
Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll made his 139th Test cap at Twickenham to equal the world record held by Australia’s George Gregan. And the Leinster centre produced another virtuoso performance at the home of English rugby. The 35-year-old, who won the Triple Crown in 2006 and 2007 before lifting his sole Grand Slam in 2009, made 23 metres, three tackles and three gainline breaks in the opening 20 minutes, defying his age. Whilst O’Driscoll is deep into the autumn of his rugby career, Mike Brown’s purple patch continued. The England full-back was one of the stars of the autumn series and has carried his form into the spring. The 28-year-old scored successive tries against France and Scotland and played a decisive role on Saturday. The Quins full-back broke the Irish line before offloading to Danny Care to propel England into the lead after a strong start to the second half from Ireland. With Sexton regularly cross-kicking to attempt to test the English backs, Brown showed his utter class as he didn’t put a foot wrong. He even managed to show off his goalkeeping skills to collect an O’Driscoll kick in the first half – one for the highlight reels. His 50-metre kick to relieve pressure with seven minutes remaining proved vital as Ireland were unable to recover the ground lost and with it, their Grand Slam dreams.