England down Ireland to stay on course for Grand Slam
AFP  Published : 11:13 am  February 28, 2016 | No comments so far | Post Views 0 times | Print This Post  | 
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Two tries inside four second-half minutes from Anthony Watson and Mike Brown helped England to a 21-10 win over Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday as they kept alive their bid for a Grand Slam.

England

England, in Australian coach Eddie Jones’ first home game in charge, were 10-6 down before Watson and Brown struck.

Inside centre Owen Farrell kicked England’s remaining points in front of a crowd of more than 81,000 at a cold Twickenham.

Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray’s try early in the second half had previously helped overturn a 6-3 interval deficit, with the rest of their points kicked by fly-half Jonathan Sexton.

But this defeat left the defending Six Nations champions without a win from their first three games.

England had to play the final nine minutes a man down after replacement scrum-half Danny Care was yellow-carded in a ruck incident.

Ireland debutant Josh van der Flier was then held up over the line by replacement back Elliot Daly, also winning his first cap, and England then won a relieving penalty from the ensuing Irish scrum.

“I think our performances have stepped up,” Jones told the BBC.

“We were facing a better team today (after wins over Scotland and Italy) and we probably left 10 to 15 points out there, as we couldn’t always convert our attacking pressure.”

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, whose side drew with Wales before losing 10-9 to France, was disappointed by the way the visitors lost their four-point advantage.

“I felt we let them come back too easily at us,” he told reporters.

“There was probably a lot of fatigue from the first half where they put a lot of pressure on us.”

This was England’s first match at Twickenham since a 33-13 defeat by Australia in October saw them become the first host nation to be knocked out of the World Cup at the group stage.

Jones had riled Ireland by suggesting their favoured kicking game was not the way he wanted to play rugby and also by expressing concerns for the health of Sexton, who has had several concussions in his career.

But it was Sexton who kicked Ireland into a fifth-minute lead with a 40-metre penalty only for Farrell to draw England level before another long-range effort went wide.

- Vunipola break -

With neither side threatening a try, England No 8 Billy Vunipola, the man-of-the-match, almost found a way through with a blindside break off a ruck in the 23rd minute before being tackled into touch just short of the line by Murray and flanker CJ Stander.

From a penalty, England saw an attacking line-out move end with skipper Dylan Hartley held up under the posts.

Even worse for England, they were denied a five-metre scrum after the hooker was penalised for a double movement.

However, the hosts soon had an attacking scrum just 10 metres from the Irish line.

England’s series of close-range drives produced another scrum before Jonathan Joseph, a hat-trick hero against Italy, knocked-on carelessly.

The centre’s error was one of several England handling mistakes in the first half.

England did get some reward when Farrell kicked a long-range penalty to give them a narrow half-time lead.

But they were soon down to 14 men when openside flanker James Haskell was yellow-carded for a late and high tackle on Murray.

Again, Ireland spurned a kickable penalty chance but this time won the line-out and Murray dived over from a ruck.

Sexton landed the difficult conversion and Ireland led 10-6.

But Farrell’s third successful penalty from distance cut Ireland’s advantage to a point in a match where Steve Hansen, coach of world champions New Zealand, was among a 81,826 crowd.

In a change of tactics England, spreading the ball wide, saw wing Jack Nowell burst clear before he was hauled down by Keith Earls.

But when the ball came across field, a floated pass from former captain Chris Robshaw sent left wing Watson in at the opposite corner in the 58th minute.

Farrell missed the conversion but minutes later England had a second try when the ball was spun wide to full-back Brown.

This time Farrell converted and England led 21-10.

Ireland almost hit back when only Nowell’s desperate tackle on Robbie Henshaw prevented a try after a Sexton break.

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