Ireland take their chances to beat England at Twickenham

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.

12 thoughts on “Ireland take their chances to beat England at Twickenham

  1. Well, the scoreline was certainly better than I expected and certain parts of our game were an improvement, but it’s still a frustrating time to be an England fan.

    I know that there’s only so much a team can improve in one game, and we did try a lot harder to move the ball around at long long last, and didn’t kick possession away all the time. But what is it about England that they can never seem to build on their strengths, they just eliminate one bad habit and bring a load of other new ones in.

    Much as we tried to move the ball, we totally lost our discipline and our dominance in the lineout , both of which were positives against France.

    The breakdown was nothing short of pathetic, with the ball turned over far too easily, and on at least three occasions it was if Ireland just couldn’t believe how long we were taking and decided to scrap for the ball and won it.

    And our defence just continues to bemuse me – what defensive system are we supposed to be playing exactly? It just doesn’t look like everyone’s playing to the same system.

    I thought the ref was a disgrace – I wouldn’t say he had any bearing on the result, but he had no control over the game. Care should never have picked O’Leary up and dumped him, but had Lawrence dealt with O’Leary on the previous penalty and given us 10 more metres it probably wouldn’t have happened.

    He hadn’t got a clue about the scrum and appears to have skipped the offside rule completely.

    Still much to do and we need to get back to basics again now.

  2. ‘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.’

    Intent? I saw a team moderately adept at smothering the ball and exerting some blunt force to little effect (unless aimless possession counts as ‘effect’, of course) at the breakdown, but utterly lacking in any dynamism or imagination in attack. The Irish, in a performance quite similar to last year’s, were content to absorb pressure and try to grind out a result, buoyed by the knowledge that they, unlike their opponents, have the capacity to break the line and genuinely threaten in open play. England’s determination to frustrate and contain their opposition, to the exclusion of all risk and ambition, might win them the occasional flattering scoreline in defeat against superior opposition (today being a case in point), but little else of worth.

  3. Ben Foden next time from start please. It really started to be nicer when he was on to be honest. Good to see Cole scoring the try and fighting the scrum so intesively but disappointed again is some players. Once and for all the pack was a laugh. You can not win on international level playing with Deacon and Borthwick. It simply does not have any impact at all. If anybody saw Tigers vs Saints yesterday you really can not believe why Lawes is not in (altough he is playing on 6 now more than on 4).

  4. At least England have strength in depth to change their game – differnt styles of player. Here in Ireland we are putting a lot of emphasis on developing Sexton as the heir apparant for the No 10 jersey. Yesterday he was dreadful – a missed penalty and conversion in the first half, two missed pens in the second half, no communication with his 9 or centres. We can fix his kicking, but we can’t change his personality and his inability to ‘take charge’.

    O’Gara,when he came on, was completely different. Like a good goalkeeper in football – he was talking, organising, taking chanrge and crucially, setting up the last try.

    Hopefully we can keep O’Gara as No 1 choice for the World Cup and look at other players in addition to Sexton as his potential replacement. We can’t afford to let Sexton throw away hard-won posession and close matches.

  5. Admittedly England did show intent at times, but Jonathan Davies summed it up perfectly after the match by showing how England’s phases of play were constantly going sideways or backwards as their positioning was too deep and Wilkinson doesn’t know when to run or kick. There were also no big England units punching through holes in Ireland’s backline (Haskell was non-existent yesterday).

    Ado, you’re too hard on Sexton. Just like people treated Cipriani when he had two charge-downs at Twickenham and lost us the game. And it’s overly harsh on a young player. You say he was dreadful when he set up Ireland’s first try beautifully with an eye for the space and very good kick. Also he is young and will undoubtedly improve. I respect the positivity of the decision to play him yesterday in such a big game. Although, O’Gara showed his class when he came on and played extremely well.

    Despite Johnny Wilkinson having a reasonable game, there is so much evidence to show that he is clueless when it comes to spotting opportunities for the backs. His positioning is poor and there were so many times Wilkinson should have shouted for the ball as there were forwards marking backs and he did nothing. I’d pick Sexton over Wilkinson any day of the week!

  6. Ado,

    Being from Munster, I would love to agree with you about Sexton but I can’t. It was his 1st 6 nations start so he’s not going to be the finished article on his 6 nations debut. The kicks he missed were all from difficult positions, one from his own half. You can’t blame him for missing those. As for his communication, I think he was doing fine with O’Leary and his backs. He intelligently kicked to Monye’s side and Tommy Bowe got on the end of his dink thru the English defence to score the first try after a few mins.

    Sexton has proven to be a great player with Leinster and will also show his talents with Ireland. O’Gara does have experience on his side and is a class 10 but Sexton has different qualities, for example he can break effectively and has a mighty boot. I’m not saying he is better than O’Gara but he is definitely a great option to have, especially coming into World Cup year next year.

  7. I too was a little disappointed with Jonny Sexton, but ‘dreadful’ is a little harsh. My expectations were too high – it was all my own doing, having put him in my fantasy team and convinced myself he’d have a stormer, kick goals, score tries and pick up the MoM award!

    I do rate him as a player and have been hugely impressed by some of his performances, and for a first start in a tense much with not much space, this wasn’t a bad effort.

    You should be thankful that you have two players in ROG and Jonny that complement each other – the calm head of ROG was exactly what Ireland needed in the closing stages yesterday.

  8. The defeat for England is frustrating, but at the same time, if England had indeed won, there would be no doubt that Johnno would pick the same team. In defeat, there is the opportunity to make a few tweaks.

    I thought Foden did well when he came on, and every time he got the ball there was the sense that he might do something exciting – I haven’t had that feeling for a while watching England. There was talk last week of Johnno’s hand being forced, so I admit to a wry smile when Armitage went off with half an hour to go.

    I don’t know the extent of Armitage’s injury, but I’d like to see Foden starting regardless against Scotland.

    Shaw’s early injury might also have been a blessing. Having Deacon on the pitch for 75 minutes gave him ample opportunity to expose his weaknesses, and I think he did so effectively. He had a chance to impress but didn’t, so let’s hope Johnno brings Lawes in.

  9. first thing is at international level it’s all about taking your chances. Ireland did that so deserved to win. as an England fan i think that we can honestly say several positives came out of the . ben foden needs to start and looked like he’d played at international level for years. wilkinson played well (apart from his goal kicking). dan coles is growing as an international prop hodgen commands the pack and also needs to start- i’ve seen enough to know that care has had his chance at this level and cannot produce quick enough ball to wilkinson, but more importantly cannot handle the pressure of international rugby as twice now he’s actions have utlimately cost england 7 points. negatives were – care; englands chase of any kicks was aweful, england’s scrabble defence once again seems to be inconsistent – when it’s good, it’s world class, when it’s bad it’s really bad. hopefully that’s just a matter of time to get it consistently right. hartley needs to go to throwing practice! deacon is not international class. overall though with some changes and tweeking england can move forward and get better, but still deserved to lose unfortunately.

  10. You ungrateful Irish people should be thankful your second choice fly half isn’t Toby Flood! Sexton is a class act and I think you’ve only scratched the surface of his potential.

    I don’t think he’s in the Cipriani mould who was happy telling players what he wanted from them right from his debut, but he’ll grow in to the leadership part of playing 10 I’m sure.

    Stephen Larkham was nicknamed “Bernie” by the Aussie players when he first joined the squad (after the dead guy in “Weekend at Bernie’s” – because he spoke so little) so being a bit shy in his first few games is not a reason to write him off.

  11. England’s back play continues to be stodgy and clumsy…. After watching the game for the second time yesterday I had to watch the Wales-France match again to cleanse my soul. For a while we’ve been bemoaning the lack of clean ball for the backs, but when they get it, they don’t know what to do with it. Considering we see some fluency in the GP on a more regular basis, the England coaching team needs to be held accountable.

    Was it just me that felt our back row was completely anonymous? Haskell has been very disappointing in my view. Scoring two tries against Wales has bought him some time, but to me he just doesn’t have a rugby brain and does not work hard enough to influence the game. On this occasion, unfortunately, Moody and Easter were also below par.

    I’m a huge Hartley fan, but he’s got to fix the throwing in. If he could get it consistent – which should not be too big an ask – then this would be one of the few areas we should dominate any NH team.

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