Farrell boots England to Dublin triumph
Published 10/02/2013 | 17:16
Owen Farrell kicked England to their first RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland in Dublin for a decade as Stuart Lancaster's men signalled their title credentials with a 12-6 win at the Aviva Stadium.
England came through what was, in many ways, the toughest test of their character since Lancaster took charge 13 months ago to sit top of the Six Nations table.
No England side had triumphed in a championship encounter in Dublin since 2003, when Martin Johnson's team destroyed Ireland and went on to win the Grand Slam and the World Cup. England are now the only side who can complete a Grand Slam in 2013, after opening their campaign with contrasting victories over Scotland and Ireland.
Ireland's first attempt at their famed choked tackle failed when Billy Twelvetrees managed to get to ground and the tacklers were penalised for not rolling away. Farrell slotted the kick to give England a second-minute lead and in wet conditions he spent a lot of the day putting boot to ball, as did Ireland's Jonathan Sexton.
Farrell was fortunate not to be sin-binned for dragging back the Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray after Craig Gilroy had charged down a clearance. Cian Healy was the next player fortunate to avoid the sin-bin for a clear stamp on the ankle of Dan Cole, sparking a brawl.
Twice Ireland attacked down the blindside through Keith Earls, who had been sent on for the injured Simon Zebo, but the hosts were struggling to retain the ball in contact. Farrell ignored the whistles to land a second penalty after Donnacha Ryan had been spotted coming in from the side.
The Irish scrum began to get on top after the break, winning penalties at consecutive set-pieces allowing Ronan O'Gara to kick his side onto the board. James Haskell was sin-binned for kicking the ball away as he wriggled out of a ruck and O'Gara landed his second shot at goal to draw Ireland level just before the hour mark.
It was a decisive period, but not in the usual way. England were a man down but refused to go into their shells and were rewarded for it, scoring six points while Haskell was off the field.
Ben Youngs tried a little chip which bounced too awkwardly for Manu Tuilagi to gather behind the Irish try-line but England had the penalty and Farrell converted. Courtney Lawes then chopped down Rob Kearney and Mike Brown, chasing up his own kick ahead, was straight in over the top to earn another penalty which Farrell slotted from the same position.
O'Gara was struggling to impose himself. He had already scuffed two kicks to touch when he pushed a penalty shot wide of the posts, spurning a route back into the game for Ireland.