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England End Ireland’s Grand Slam Plan

  • 5 min read

England ended Ireland’s hopes of a Grand Slam in this season’s Six Nations with a 24-12 win at Twickenham on Sunday.

First-half tries by George Ford and Elliot Daly were converted by England captain Owen Farrell, who also kicked a penalty, to give his side a commanding 17-0 interval lead against an Ireland team coached by his father, Andy Farrell.

This was the first time the pair had been in opposition since former England international and assistant coach Andy Farrell was promoted from within the Ireland set-up when Joe Schmidt stood down following their disappointing quarterfinal exit at the World Cup.

It was not a happy return to ‘headquarters’ for Farrell senior as he suffered his first loss as Ireland head coach.

England, captained by Owen, denied the Irish, who had already beaten Scotland and Wales, the Triple Crown.

World Cup finalists England, who remain in title contention despite losing to France in their tournament opener, built a commanding 17-0 lead at half-time thanks to tries from George Ford and Elliot Daly.

Owen Farrell converted both, scored after Ireland failed to deal with kicks into their in-goal area. He added a penalty shortly before the break.

Farrell, who landed all four of his goal-kicks, also impressed with his kicks out of hand, as did Daly and Ford.

Robbie Henshaw scored a try for Ireland early in the second half but England put the result beyond doubt when replacement hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie was driven over for a 62nd-minute try.

England made several changes to the side that won 13-6 away to Scotland for what was their first match at Twickenham since they thrashed Ireland 57-15 in a World Cup warm-up match in August.

Daly, back at full-back from the wing after George Furbank was injured, belied his reputation for being suspect under the high ball by catching the first towering kick that came his way.

Fit-again centre Manu Tuilagi repeatedly made ground, and put in a thumping tackle on Ireland No 8 CJ Stander.

The nervy Irish, on the other hand, made mistakes as they tried to force the play.

England went ahead in the eighth minute when Ireland full-back Jordan Larmour opted against ‘marking’ the ball after a good catch near his own line.

England regained possession and scrum-half Ben Youngs, making his 100th international appearance, put through a fine grubber kick from 25 metres out.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton fumbled the bouncing ball in the in-goal area, and opposing fly-half Ford collected to score.

Sexton then fired a routine penalty attempt well wide before England made it 14-0 in the 25th minute.

Excellent handling from prop Kyle Sinckler and Jonathan Joseph helped England run the ball back into Ireland’s 22.

Ford’s well-weighted chip bounced away from Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale, and the chasing Daly touched down before the ball went dead.

England’s forwards were on top in all areas. Man-of-the-match Courtney Lawes led the way  as England forced 13 ruck turnovers by the 65th minute.

“We knew Ireland were on good form and we came out flying, we put an emphasis on that all week. It was great to get out here with the boys,” said Lawes who, on his 31st birthday, started at blindside flanker rather than lock.

“Any chance I get to put on the shirt, especially at my old age, I relish it.

“We just want to keep building, the goal is to be the best team the world has ever seen.”

Sexton’s day went from bad to worse when his offside led to an Owen Farrell penalty that put England three scores ahead.

Kickable penalties were now of little use to Ireland, with England happy to infringe in defence rather than concede a try.

In the 50th minute, from a five-metre scrum, outside centre Henshaw forced his way between Owen Farrell and England No 8 Tom Curry for a try.

Sexton, however, pulled his conversion well wide, with England still comfortably at 17-5.

Cowan-Dickie was driven over off a five-metre scrum.

By the time Irish replacement Andrew Porter scored a try in stoppage time it was all too late for the visitors.

England welcome Wales to Twickenham when the Six Nations resumes on March 7, while Ireland are at home to perennial strugglers Italy.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries: Ford, Daly, Cowan-Dickie
Cons: Farrell 3
Pen: Farrell

For Ireland:
Tries: Henshaw, Porter
Con: Cooney


England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Jonny May, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonathan Joseph, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Tom Curry, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Charlie Ewels, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Willi Heinz, 23 Henry Slade.

Ireland: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Caelan Doris, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Keith Earls.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Romain Poite (France), Alexandre Ruiz (France)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)