England down Ireland to top Six Nations

Jonathan Joseph is tackled short of the line for England

England took back the top spot in the Six Nations Championship standing by beating current champions Ireland 21-10 at Twickenham.

The result make England favourites again to win the title while Ireland are out of contention for the title as after three matches they are without a win or a point.

England outscored Ireland by two tries to one but discipline almost cost the home side dearly as Ireland’s try came while James Haskell was in the sin-bin for a late tackle and also lost Danny care to the bin for cynical play.

The Six Nations takes a break next weekend but England are back at Twickenham in two weeks time where they will face Wales who like England are unbeaten but are a point behind as they drew with Ireland.

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.

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.

England No.8 Billy Vunipola was named Six Nations man of the match.

Final Score England 21 (6) Ireland 10 (3)

Scorers

England
Tries – Watson, Brown
Pen – Farrell (3)
Con – Farrell
Drop –

Ireland
Tries – Murray
Pen – Sexton
Con – Sexton
Drop –

Match Officials
Referee: Romain Poite (FRA)

Teams

England

Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw; George Kruis, Maro Itoje; Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (capt), Joe Marler

Replacements: Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Paul Hill, Courtney Lawes, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Alex Goode

Ireland

Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart McCloskey, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander; Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan; Mike Ross, Rory Best (capt), Jack McGrath

Replacements: Richardt Strauss, Cian Healy, Nathan White, Ultane Dillane, Rhys Ruddock, Eoin Reddan, Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo

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