Six Nations

3 things we learned from Ireland v England

2019-02-02 23:06
Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell (AP)

Dublin - England stunned Grand Slam champions Ireland by launching their Six Nations Championship campaign with an upset 32-20 win in Dublin on Saturday.

Below AFP Sport examines three aspects of an absorbing contest at the Aviva Stadium.

Farrell topples Farrell

Once again Ireland assistant coach Andy Farrell, the former England centre and coach, found himself in opposition to son Owen, the England captain. Ireland great Peter Stringer had suggested in the build-up that "hothead" flyhalf Owen might prove a liability.

But the Saracens star led a brilliant defensive effort without losing his cool and then, despite the presence of a long-range kick specialist in the shape of Elliot Daly, landed a key late penalty from far out to give England a 12-point lead at 25-13 with 10 minutes left.

That England scored four tries against an Ireland side whose defence is organised by renowned specialist Andy Farrell also ensured family bragging rights for his son.

Daly makes his points

England fullback Elliot Daly has spent much of his club career as either a centre or a wing, leading to doubts over his suitability as a No 15. The Wasps back was, however, largely secure under the high ball in defence on Saturday - a key task for any fullback and an aspect of his play that was criticised during the November internationals.

But few doubt Daly's playmaking ability and that attacking flair led to two England tries. His slick pass sent in Jonny May before he proved the worth of the old saying that "a kick is only as good as the chase" when he followed up his own deft grubber to capitalise on Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale's fumble for the visitors' second try.

Garces gets it right

Finding the balance between letting a match flow while at the same time making sure foul play is penalised correctly is no easy task for any referee. Trying to do that when two of the world's leading teams are involved in a hugely physical clash, played before a raucous capacity crowd, is even more difficult.

Yet French referee Jerome Garces once more demonstrated why he is one of the world's leading officials with a sympathetic approach to a titanic struggle. Unlike some matches, no one could fairly say this clash was decided by a contentious refereeing call.

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

 

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Sunday, 24 February 2019
Italy v Ireland, Stadio Olimpico 17:00
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