This blockbuster and arguably the most anticipated game of the six nations despite being played on the opening weekend certainly lived up to all the hype. The first half being an extremely tight and physical affair with no side willing to give the other an inch. Inevitably it was the fine margins that decided the scores in the opening half for both sides. The opening try came for England after just 3 minutes with England busting out from the blocks and sending pacey Johnny May into the corner.
It took Ireland 20 minutes to translate their pressure into a score when they spurned the opportunity to put points on the board with a kickable penalty and instead kicked to the corner. This proved to be a great strategic decision as Healy bulldozed over from a maul off the lineout – handing the lead to Ireland.
The lead was short lived however as a mistake from Stockdale who has been having a great game allowed Elliot Daly to capitalise and touch down from a fumble from the Ulster flyer. Just before half time England were held up from 5 yards out which would have given them a two score lead going into the second half, instead they came away with a penalty leaving the score Ireland 10 – England 17 at half time.
Larmour came on for Earls at half time with Earls being on the receiving end of some heavy blows in the first half. The second half started out as tight and physical as the first half, although as the game went on England grinded their way through to display some dominance physically.
The second half started out as tight and physical as the first half, although as the game went on England grinded their way through to display some dominance physically. At the start of the second Larmour came on for Earls who was on the receiving end of some heavy blows in the first half.
The turning point that never happened for Ireland occurred on the stroke of 50 minutes when Ringrose hit Farrell with a thunderous hit and the ball was subsequently hacked on to turn defence into attack for the Irish. Ireland were then parked on the English 22 but could only come away from this attacking position with a penalty. The reality is however England were always in control of this game and on the 65th minute Henry Slade bagged the first his of his two tries for the afternoon and gathered a kick and chase to make the score 13 – 22 in England’s favour.
A further penalty and Slade’s second try on the 75th minute in the form of a perfectly timed intercept when Ireland were desperate to play out of their own 22. That try all but sealed a comprehensive performance by Eddie Jones’s men and a break away try by reserve scrum half John Cooney proved to be a consolation try.
There will be a lot to think about for Joe Schmit going forward. Did the Robbie Henshaw at fullback experiment work? Is there cohesion in the midfield? There will be a lot to reflect in this world cup year. England on the other hand looked immense and will take some beating in the Six Nations with some favourable home draws for the remainder of the season.