Guts... and glory
Published 28/02/2010 | 09:41
Ireland stayed on track for a fifth Triple Crown in seven seasons and a possible second Championship in two years after coming from behind before a full house at Twickenham yesterday to beat England 20-16.
They are relying on either Italy or England managing to beat France in Paris to open up the Championship race but are now the only nation that can win the Triple Crown.
Yesterday's win came despite losing captain Brian O'Driscoll for the endgame after he took a heavy bang on the head after colliding with Paul O'Connell's knee. It remains to be seen how O'Driscoll reacts to psychometric tests that will be carried out today.
If they show no deterioration from those he would have done at the start of the season then he will be fit to face Wales in a fortnight.
The captain is the only injury concern after a game where Tommy Bowe excelled in scoring two of Ireland's three tries -- outscoring England three to one -- in what was Ireland's sixth win in the last seven games against this opposition. Encouragingly for Declan Kidney, his team again came home first in a tight struggle -- a feature of their run which had extended from November 2008 to two weeks ago in Paris with 12 games unbeaten.
When Jonny Wilkinson put England ahead for the first time with a drop-goal nine minutes from time, the bulk of the 82,000 crowd were envisaging three wins in a row for under-pressure manager Martin Johnson.
"We've come back from deficits before, especially in the second half, and we showed belief and confidence in each others' abilities," said man of the match Jamie Heaslip.
"We got a good try and closed the game out well. England had good time on the ball and played territory well, but I suppose we took our chances. The scoreboard reflects the game. We looked at the France game and thought we didn't take our opportunities. Today we did -- we had no doubts about what we could do. For an Ireland player it's not that hard to get motivated for an England game, especially here."