A superb defensive effort in the last ten minutes saw England hold on to their slender three point lead and deny Ireland a Triple Crown, the hosts winning 13-10 at Twickenham on a cold, crisp afternoon.
The momentum swung both ways in a pulsating game that really could have contained double the points it did in the end.
The first half had been a tit-for-tat affair, with both sides threatening the try line only for stubborn defence and, at times, silly errors, seeing them fall short. In the end an Owen Farrell penalty was the only score of the first forty minutes, and the home side went into the break 3-0 ahead.
The second half burst into life immediately, Jamie Heaslip’s pass and Rob Kearney’s beautiful line sending the fullback in untouched under the posts. A penalty a few minutes later from Johnny Sexton extended Ireland’s lead to 10-3.
England hit back soon after, however, with something special. A seemingly aimless passage of play sparked into life when Chris Robshaw got on the outside of his man, before offloading smartly inside to Mike Brown. The fullback, who looked typically dangerous every time he touched the ball, rounded one man before being caught by the final defender.
Brown somehow managed to throw a no-look offload, however, and Danny Care nabbed the ball and scooted in to score under the posts. As had happened earlier for Ireland, Owen Farrell converted before adding another penalty moments later.
Mike Brown was the stand out performer for England, an assertion backed up by the IBM TryTracker. His 88 metres made, four defenders beaten and three gainline breaks were crucial to England’s win, with Jonny May and Dylan Hartley also weighing in with important contributions.
For Ireland, Gordon D’Arcy was staunch in defence, leading his side’s charge with 12 tackles made, but along with midfield partner Brian O’Driscoll failed to unlock what was a determined English defensive effort.
The last act of the game was somewhat poignant, as some stoic English defence forced a final turnover from an Irish rolling maul, such a potent weapon in the Championship to date. The whistle went and England recorded a vital win that keeps them in the hunt for the 2014 Six Nations title.