Thursday 21 February 2019

Clinical Ireland too strong for England

Ireland 19 England 9

Nick Purewal

Ireland suffocated England into full submission with a 19-9 victory in Dublin, setting up a serious tilt towards a first RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam since 2009.

Robbie Henshaw's first Test try sealed an emphatic victory over Stuart Lancaster's England, with Ireland now odds-on to retain the Six Nations title.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: The Ireland team huddle up prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: The Ireland team huddle up prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Ireland supporters raise their glasses ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's wing Simon Zebo is tackled by England's wing Anthony Watson (R) and England's centre Jonathan Joseph during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's wing Simon Zebo (2nd L) is tackled during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: The England team line up for the national anthem prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
A man reads a Sunday newspaper in the stands ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: The England team line up for the national anthem prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Luther Burrell of England is wrapped up by Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Rory Best of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Dave Attwood of England wins lineout ball under presure from Peter O'Mahoney of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland receives treatment during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Jared Payne of Ireland is hauled down by Billy Vunipola of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Ireland's fly half Johnny Sexton kicks their second penalty during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: George Ford of England kickds drop goal past the onrushing Conor Murray of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Conor Murray of Ireland passes the ball out from a ruck during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Luther Burrell of England is wrapped up by Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Rory Best of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
England's lock Dave Attwood (C) wins line-out ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Ben Youngs of England is tackled by Jonathan Sexton, Rory Best and Sean O'Brien of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Conor Murray of Ireland clears the ball upfield despite the attentions from George Kruis of England and James Haskell of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Joe Marler of England with the support of teammate Dave Attwood of England charge towards Robbie Henshaw of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Chris Robshaw of England is challenged by Tommy O'Donnell of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland takes a high ball to score the opening try despite the efforts of Alex Goode of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland touches down the ball to score the opening try despite the efforts of Alex Goode of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Tommy Bowe of Ireland is tackled by Billy Vunipola of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Rob Kearney of Ireland is hauled down by Jonathan Joseph of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Ireland's centre Robbie Henshaw (2nd R) celebrates scoring Ireland's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks at goal during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland's centre Robbie Henshaw (R) scores Ireland's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Jack Nowell of England is brought down by Rob Kearney of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Ireland's centre Robbie Henshaw (R) celebrates scoring Ireland's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Robbie Henshaw (R) of Ireland is congratulated by teammate Jared Payne of Ireland after scoring the opening try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Dejected England players look on after conceding the opening try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Robbie Henshaw (R) of Ireland is congratulated by teammates after scoring the opening try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Ben Youngs of England has his clearance kick charged down by Paul O'Connell of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland is tackled by Jonathan Joseph of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland hands off Jonathan Joseph of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Dejected England players look on after conceding the opening try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Dan Cole of England is closed down by Rory Best of Ireland and Peter O'Mahoney of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Peter O'Mahoney of Ireland wins lineout ball under pressure from Chris Robshaw of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Cian Healy of Ireland brushes aside Ben Youngs of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
England players react after conceding their first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Luther Burrell of England looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: (L-R) Dejected England players Richard Wigglesworth, George Kruis and Chris Robshaw react during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: (L-R) Dejected England players Richard Wigglesworth, George Kruis and Chris Robshaw react during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Anthony Watson of England goes past Robbie Henshaw of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Ben Youngs of England passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Dan Cole of England is closed down by Rory Best of Ireland and Peter O'Mahoney of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Jonathan Joseph of England is tackled by Peter O'Mahoney of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Simon Zebo of Ireland takes a high ball ahead of George Ford of England and Anthony Watson of England during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: A ejected George Kruis of England reacts during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Simon Zebo of Ireland and Cian Healy of Ireland celebrate their team's 19-9 victory during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: A dejected Chris Robshaw walks off with his team following their 19-9 defeat during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
England's Billy Twelvetrees (2nd L) looks to pass as Ireland's Ian Madigan prepares to tackle during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. Ireland won the game 19 - 9. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
England's Billy Twelvetrees is tackled by Ireland's Ian Madigan during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. Ireland won the game 19 - 9. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: A dejected England captain Chris Robshaw during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Simon Zebo of Ireland and Felix Jones of Ireland celebrate their team's 19-9 victory during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: A dejected George Kruis of England reacts during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: A dejected Chris Robshaw of England leads off his team following their 19-9 defeat during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: A dejected Chris Robshaw walks off with his team following their 19-9 defeat during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
England's full back Alex Goode (2nd R) makes a break during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. Ireland won the game 19 - 9. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's fly half Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. Ireland won the game 19 - 9. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
England's Billy Twelvetrees passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. Ireland won the game 19 - 9. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Dejected England players Jack Nowell and Billy Twelvetrees react as Ireland players celebrate their team's 19-9 victory during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Dejected England players Nick Easter, Richard Wigglesworth and Billy Twelvetrees of England walk off the pitch following their team's 19-9 victory during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
England's number 8 Billy Vunipola (C) makes a break during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. Ireland won the game 19 - 9. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland players celebrate at the final whistle in the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on March 1, 2015. Ireland won the game 19 - 9. AFP PHOTO / PAUL ELLISPAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images

Jonathan Sexton inspired the reigning champions' 10th successive victory by producing a masterclass in game management, while his half-back partner Conor Murray also flourished behind an Irish pack that played with furious intent throughout.

The only surprise at half-time was that they led by just six points despite having been superior in every department, with Sexton directing operations with calm authority.

And the manner in which they ratcheted up the intensity in the third quarter was reminiscent of New Zealand, with Sexton's vision initiating a try for Robbie Henshaw that established a 19-3 lead.

Inside centre Henshaw was named man of the match, but that accolade could easily have gone to Sexton who decorated his display with four penalties and a conversion.

England were over-run for lengthy spells of the second half and apart from a characteristic fightback in the final quarter, there was little to applaud in a chastening afternoon.

They had been out-thought and out-muscled in a loss that has worrying implications for their hopes of mounting a meaningful challenge at the World Cup and reduced their stirring victory over Wales in Cardiff three weeks ago to a distant memory.

In contrast, Ireland have confirmed their position as the dominant force in European rugby and their coronation for a second year in succession surely awaits on March 21, with only Wales and Scotland capable of halting their march to a Grand Slam.

The reputation of their head coach Joe Schmidt continues to soar and the Kiwi will have savoured this result and performance, having stated before the game that the 13th win of his 16 matches at the helm would be his most treasured achievement.

1 March 2015; Luther Burrell, England, is tackled by Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, resulting in a turnover. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
1 March 2015; Luther Burrell, England, is tackled by Jonathan Sexton, Ireland, resulting in a turnover. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
1 March 2015; Rob Henshaw, Ireland, kicks the ball forward deep into England territory. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
1 March 2015; Dave Attwood, Ireland, is tackled by George Ford, right, and George Ford, England. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Schmidt may have to plan for the final two rounds without his bulldozing openside Sean O'Brien, however, as the biggest match of the 2015 Six Nations inevitably witnessed a significant concussion incident.

O'Brien was struck when tackled by Billy Vunipola, rising to his feet before lurching back over on to the turf as if drunk. Once regaining composure with the team doctor in attendance, he departed to bring his afternoon to an end.

Here are the match highlights:

England had been braced for an early onslaught and the reigning champions did not disappoint, with two Sexton penalties nudging them into a 6-0 lead with only eight minutes on the clock.

Mere inches separated them from a try as they launched waves of attacks from a pair of five-metre scrums, but the visitors' defence was strong.

1 March 2015; Robbie Henshaw, Ireland, catches a high ball against Alex Goode, England, before touching down for the first try of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
1 March 2015; Robbie Henshaw, Ireland, catches a high ball against Alex Goode, England, before touching down for the first try of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Luther Burrell carried hard as England bristled in response, finding reward in the form of a drop goal by George Ford, although the Bath fly-half then pulled a long-range penalty wide.

Wing Simon Zebo plucked a bomb from the air despite being surrounded by white shirts, but Ireland suffered a setback with O'Brien's removal from the game.

A tense first half continued with the champions in the ascendency, employing their kicking game to good effect and winning the collisions.

Burrell was dumped in his own 22 and Sexton sent opposite number Ford hurtling backwards in the tackle, but the Lions fly-half could only land one of the ensuing penalties.

The pressure continued and Ireland began to expand their game, looking for width more often as England struggled to escape their 22 until smart thinking from Jack Nowell swept them out of danger.

Brilliant work from Alex Goode, who collected the ball from behind his own posts and broke free, rescued England before Anthony Watson found space only to fling out a wild pass.

Ireland's execution during the passage of play that led to Henshaw's try was a lesson in efficiency that would have made the All Blacks proud.

Sexton capitalised on a turnover by chipping into the corner, Watson was collared and green shirts piled over at the ruck to win the ball back for a second time.

Having pounded at the English defence, it became Murray's turn to kick and with the ball hanging in the air Goode was out-jumped by Henshaw, who touched down with Sexton converting

Two penalties by Ford gave England a glimmer of hope, but that was extinguished amid Ireland's determination to keep their line intact as the Red Rose slumped to their first defeat of the Championship to leave their title hopes hanging by a thread.

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