Could the Irish Wolfhounds’ players stake a claim for a place in the main squad today?
Hello, and welcome to our liveblog of today’s game.
We’ll have the team news for you momentarily.
Here are today’s teams:
England Saxons: E Daly, A Watson, M Hopper, S Hill, C Sharples, F Burns, J Simpson, A Waller, J George, T Mercey, C Matthews, G Kruis, C Clark (c), L Wallace, D Ewers
Replacements: D Ward, N Catt, S Wilson, E Stooke, S Dickinson, D Lewis, H Slade, R Miller
Ireland Wolfhounds: F Jones; F McFadden, R Henshaw, D Cave, C Gilroy; I Madigan, I Boss; D Kilcoyne, R Herring, M Moore; I Henderson, D Tuohy; R Ruddock (c), T O’Donnell, R Copeland.
Replacements: R Strauss, J McGrath, S Archer, R Diack, J Murphy, K Marmion, I Keatley, S Zebo.
Speaking to Sky, Anthony Foley says the Wolfhounds are using the “same template as the senior side have” today, but adds that they’ll have to “adapt” to the occasion.
Meanwhile, the Sky pundits have singled out Ian Madigan as a player to watch this evening.
While the Irish side has plenty of full international experience, the same cannot be said for England.
There are just three full internationals between them, who have a total of eight caps — Joe Simpson (one cap), Freddie Burns (three) and Charlie Sharples (four).
We can’t say we disagree with this:
TRY FOR IRELAND!
Ireland 7-0 England: It’s the first time Ireland have found themselves deep in opposition territory and Isaac Boss capitalises (4 mins).
He collects the ball from the scrum following a lineout inside the 22, and dummies before darting through a gap in the English defence to score the game’s first try.
Madigan then makes no mistake with the conversion.
Following that opening try, Ireland have had to deal with pressure of their own.
Daly sprints for the corner, but he doesn’t quite have the pace to escape his marker, and Ireland subsequently retrieve possession and clear.
Ireland are playing with the wind, so they have a slight advantage this half.
They’re currently having to deal with English pressure though, as the hosts are in possession just outside the Wolfhounds’ 22.
With just 15 minutes played, the pitch is already a mess and the players are covered in mud.
England have enjoyed superior possession and territory, but look a little stale in attack at the moment.
Sky’s Stuart Barnes, meanwhile, believes Ireland are “edging it” at the moment.
Again, England have possession in the Irish 22, but again, they struggle to outwit the visitors’ disciplined defence.
They eventually knock-on under pressure from the Irish defence, enabling Anthony Foley’s team to earn a scrum.
Joe Schmidt has just been pictured watching on in the crowd. He’ll be relatively impressed with aspects of the Irish side’s game thus far.
TRY FOR ENGLAND!
England 5-7 Ireland: Gilroy fails to hold Felix Jones’ pass and Anthony Watson capitalises, catching the stray ball and running under for a try (24 mins).
Burns then hits the post with his conversion.
TRY FOR IRELAND!
Ireland 14-5 England: Quick thinking from Ian Madigan. After an attack breaks down, the ref brings it back for a penalty, and the Leinster man has the strength to drive over the line after his well-judged decision to go for a quick tap and go (29 mins).
He then dusts himself off and confidently kicks the conversion.
Ireland are deservedly ahead with five minutes remaining until half-time.
They’ll perhaps want to extend their advantage while they still have the wind on their side though.
HALF-TIME: ENGLAND 5-14 IRELAND
So Ireland deservedly lead at the break.
They have frequently been incisive in attack, and have also been solid in defence — save that one lapse when Gilroy failed to hold onto Jones’ pass.
Ian Madigan was arguably the standout player. There was one moment when he inexplicably dropped a pass and put the Irish under pressure, but in general, he has kicked and passed very efficiently, while he also took his try extremely well.
In contrast, the English’s inexperience has shown. They’ve been consistently inferior at the breakdown, and despite enjoying a significant amount of possession and territory at times, the hosts have invariably looked short of ideas in attack.
The second half has begun.
Strauss is on for Herring at hooker.
(Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw tackled by Charlie Sharples of England – INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
It’s a low-key start to this second half.
It’s been a little scrappy, partially due to the increasingly poor conditions, with the majority of the half so far being played around the halfway line.
England have had 78% of the possession in the second half so far.
Nevertheless, similar to the first half, they are committing a number of sloppy errors and lack Ireland’s ruthlessness in attack.
England win a penalty, but Burns hits the penalty for the second time this evening with his attempt.
Meanwhile, Jack McGrath has just replaced David Kilcoyne, and Simon Zebo is on in place of Craig Gilroy.
England launch another promising attack in Ireland’s 22, but somewhat predictably, the move breaks down.
Clark knocks on a simple enough pass to take, and Ireland can relax again.
A great sustained attack from Ireland as Zebo is pushed into touch inches from the try line.
The gulf in class is really evident in the comparisons between the way the teams attack in the opposition 22, with Ireland far more impressive in that area.
The latest substitutions see Jordi Murphy and Ian Keatley on for Tommy O’Donnell and Robbie Henshaw.
England 8-14: Ireland Freddy Burns finally gives his side hope, kicking over a first successful penalty to bring the hosts within six points of their opponents (63 mins).
England have just won a penalty at the breakdown.
The Irish side haven’t been quite so impressive compared with their first-half showing
Meanwhile, Diack is on for Henderson and Marmion has replaced try-scorer Boss.
(Ireland’s Ian Madigan tackled – INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
England are looking very strong all of a sudden.
McFadden has to make a good tackle to stop Daly sprinting to the corner for a try.
England continue to probe around their opponents’ 22, but it’s been a huge effort throughout this match from the Irish defence.
Just under four minutes remain now.
We’re in the dying stages now, Ireland look like they’re going to hold on…
Unbelievable drama as Burns drops the ball out of play as he attempts to dive for the try line with the last play of the game.
It’s all over then, as the referee blows the final whistle.
Man of the Match Isaac Boss praises the side for showing “a lot of heart” and acknowledges that the conditions prevented both teams from playing fluent rugby.
The Irish side made over 120 tackles.
So Ireland hold on for a gritty victory.
The conditions ensured that it wasn’t really a game for individuals to impress too much.
That said, there were a number of players who did their cause no harm — Madigan, Boss, Henshaw, Copeland, Cave and Ruddock in particular all had solid outings.
With the wind against them, Ireland played with extreme pragmatism and were perhaps overly eager to kick the ball out of hand at times.
They were nearly made to pay, as the hosts were inches away from scoring a try and potentially winning the match in the final seconds.
However, ultimately, Ireland’s determined defence ensured they held out for a hard-fought and just-about-deserved victory.
Right, that’s it from me.
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