Six Nations

England spoil BOD's landmark

2014-02-22 20:10
Brian O'Driscoll (File)

London - England fought back to spoil Ireland great Brian O'Driscoll's record-equalling Test appearance with a 13-10 Six Nations victory at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ireland's loss, their fourth in a row to England, dashed dreams of a Grand Slam for O'Driscoll, who equalled former Australia great George Gregan's record of 139 Test caps on Saturday, in the centre's final season before retirement.

It also meant no team in this season's Six Nations would complete a coveted clean sweep of victories.

This result left four teams on four point at the top of the table but Ireland had a huge points difference of +42, compared to England's +21, Wales' +6 and France's +1.

England were 10-3 behind early in the second half and afterwards delighted coach Stuart Lancaster hailed his youthful side.

"It was a proper Test match, two teams going for it. Ireland were great but we showed maturity in closing out the game," Lancaster said.

A breathless first half ended with England just 3-0 ahead thanks to an Owen Farrell penalty.

But Ireland hit back with a converted try from full-back Rob Kearney early in the second half and went 10-3 up with a Jonathan Sexton penalty .

Farrell's second penalty cut Ireland's lead and then England scrum-half Danny Care was put clear for a match-winning converted try.

"The difference was three points," Ireland coach Joe Schmidt told reporters.

"We searched long and hard for those three points in the final 10 minutes but we didn't quite get there and England defended superbly."

England out-mauled Ireland while full-back Mike Brown, the man-of-the-match, impressed in attack and defence.

"We were pretty happy at half-time but we needed to finish off the phases," Brown explained.

Ireland, with O'Driscoll fit following a stomach bug, were unchanged from the side that overwhelmed two-time defending champions Wales 26-3 but England, fresh from their 20-0 thrashing of Scotland in Edinburgh, were forced into making one change.

David Wilson replaced Dan Cole after the tighthead prop suffered a season-ending neck injury.

England had the first try-scoring chance after Brown's clever dummy and run took them into the Irish 22.

They kept possession for some 16 phases and eventually the ball came out on the right for wing Jonny May in the sixth minute.

But just as he was crossing the try-line, May lost possession as a result of Ireland wing Andrew Trimble's superb cover-tackle.

Trimble saw the tables turned when, following fly-half Sexton's cross-kick, he was on the receiving end of a try-saving tackle by England blindside flanker Tom Wood.

England, who had spoken about 'targeting' Sexton, saw Farrell fortunate not to be sent to the sin-bin for a late shoulder charge on the man he 'understudied' during the British and Irish Lions series win in Australia last year.

- End to end match -

When Ireland infringed at a line-out, Farrell kicked England into a 24th minute lead with a 50-metre penalty.

England squandered a try-scoring chance before half-time.

Luther Burrell, who had scored a try from a similar crash-ball against Scotland, took a similar pass near Ireland's line but lost possession in the tackle.

Ireland caught England cold with a try straight off the training ground soon after half-time.

After May was penalised for a push, Ireland won a line-out and lock Devin Toner's tap down found Jamie Heaslip.

The No 8 then delivered an inside pass to Rob Kearney and the full-back surged through the England defence off a crash ball for a try under the posts which Sexton converted to put Ireland 7-3 ahead.

Sexton then kicked Ireland into a 10-3 lead with a penalty.

But an end-to-end match saw England advance to within a yard of Ireland's line before they won a simple penalty which Farrell kicked to cut Ireland's lead to four points.

And moments later England went ahead with a try they too scored off an inside pass.

England captain Chris Robshaw's pass from a ruck released impressive full-back Mike Brown and he found Danny Care, with the scrum-half running in for a 56th minute try under the posts for an all-Harlequins try which Farrell converted to put England 13-10 up.

Lancaster's men then repelled Ireland superbly for a win that opened up the title race.

Read more on:    ireland  |  england  |  six nations  |  rugby
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