England’s unbeaten run came to a grinding halt at Twickenham this afternoon as they lost to Ireland by 20 points to 16. They were outscored by three tries to one, but this was a game they really should have won.
Ireland took their chances and England didn’t, but other than that, there wasn’t a huge amount between the two sides. The game was gripping throughout, even if it wasn’t a thrilling spectacle for the neutrals, and when Jonny Wilkinson put England into the lead for the first time with 8 minutes remaining, it looked as though the Grand Slam dream could still be on.
But then the winning try from Tommy Bowe came from first phase possession a few minutes later, and conceding a try like that is unforgiveable at this level. For that alone, it’s difficult to argue that England actually deserved victory, but Ireland were not at their best and were there for the taking.
It wasn’t a great start for England, with two painful blows with just 5 minutes on the clock. After dominating early possession, Ireland turned the ball over, spotted a mismatch, chipped through and scored – then Louis Deacon came on when Shaw picked up an early injury.
England were always chasing the game after that, and they actually looked like they wanted to run the ball a little more than usual. Most of the time, it resulted in some side to side passing, several min-rucks and a turnover, but at least there was some more intent.
The referee didn’t help the England cause, and there were one or two dubious decisions, including a reversed penalty that led to Ireland’s second try, and Ireland’s collapsing of a driving maul close to their line that resulted in a scrum to Ireland.
Ireland ought to be congratulated for their incisiveness at crucial times. They spotted opportunities and they executed much more effectively than England, and although the hosts had the majority of possession, it looked as though they were playing to a script rather than looking ahead at what was in front of them.
We have several interviews to bring you, and we’ll publish those tomorrow. Then we’ll be doing Player Ratings and the usual analysis and debriefing early next week. Keep an eye on the site for all the updates, but feel free to leave us your thoughts on the action in the meantime.