If the England Saxons expected to keep the Wolfhounds quiet at a gale-lashed Ravenhill last night they had a big surprise as they were cut down to size.
Even though they had issues in the tight, the Irish boys showed their teeth in the first half with tries from the excellent Denis Hurley and skipper Chris Henry helping them to a 14-3 interval lead playing into a strong wind.
In a tale of two halves, it was the Wolfhounds who had withstood everything the Saxons could muster after the break, with out-half Ian Humphreys adding two second-half penalties to his earlier brace of conversions.
It was Nevin Spence who brought the game to life, gaining possession deep inside his own half and immediately bouncing Billy Twelvetrees on his stump and then left Ugo Monye trailing, before finding Hurley in support with the Munsterman sprinting in at the posts from 22 metres out.
England got on the board in the 19th minute following a scrum infringement with out-half Stephen Myler scoring the penalty.
The Irish went further ahead in the 26th minute after Saxons' Paul Dorian-Jones was sin-binned for killing the ball. The Wolfhounds took a scrum option from the penalty and although they still struggled against a seven-man pack, No 8 Chris Henry did brilliantly in picking up and showing great strength to get over.
The Wolfhounds extended their lead six minutes after the restart with Humphreys banging over an audacious penalty inside his own half.
However, that only temporarily relieved the pressure as the Irish scrum again came under scrutiny and this time Brett Wilkinson brought the wrath of the official and he was yellow-carded for collapsing a series of five-metre scrums. Ireland finally caved in under pressure when the scrum finally went ahead and after a series of rucks, Moyne was given space on the left to trot in out wide in the 57th minute.
The Wolfhounds barely got a sniff of the ball in the second half, with Myler slotting over a close-in penalty in the 68th minute. It was then batten-down- the-hatches time for the home side and they proved adept at culling the Saxons in the final 10 minutes, with Humphreys banging over a second penalty from 40-metres for good measure.
Irish Wolfhounds -- D Kearney; J Murphy; E O'Malley, N Spence, D Hurley; I Humphreys, I Boss; B Wilkinson, D Varley, D Fitzpatrick (J Hagan, 68), D Ryan, M O'Driscoll, M McCarthy (D Ryan, 65), W Faloon (Nagle, 70), C Henry (capt).
England Saxons -- N Abendanon; J Simpson-Daniel; M Tuilagi, B Twelvetrees (B Barritt, 48), U Monye; S Myler, J Simpson; A Corbisiero, l Mears, P Doran-Jones (J Marler, 40), G Kitchener, C Day, J Gaskell, C Robshaw (capt) L Narraway (S Aull (68).
Ref -- P Gauzere (FFR).