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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 21 May, 2018


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Good afternoon and welcome along to The42‘s live coverage of Ireland’s final Six Nations game of 2017 as Joe Schmidt’s side host England at the Aviva Stadium.

A view of the match programme and match ball Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The visitors come into the game as champions for the second consecutive year with Eddie Jones’ men bidding to become the first side in the Six Nations era to complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

England are also bidding to set a new record of 19 successive Test wins by a top tier nation.

For Ireland? There is nothing more than pride on the line but captain Rory Best says his side ‘owe themselves’ a big performance after defeats to Scotland and Wales ended any hopes we had of a Grand Slam decider here this evening.

Kick-off at Lansdowne Road is fast approaching at 5pm and we’ll have all the build-up between now and then right here.

The teams are in the house.

CJ Stander arrives Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Eddie Jones before the game Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

Joe Schmidt before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Jerome Garces with Dylan Hartley, Rory Best and the RBS coin toss experience winner Gareth Jordon at the coin toss Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens with Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell also in position at the Aviva Stadium as we bring you minute-by-minute of this evening’s game.

If you want to join in the conversation, tweet us: @The42_ie, e-mail or post your thoughts in the comments section below.

Before we go any further, let’s take a check on the line-ups. There are no late changes to either side.


15. Jared Payne
14. Keith Earls
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Simon Zebo
10. Jonathan Sexton
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (Capt)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Iain Henderson
6. CJ Stander
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Niall Scannell
17. Cian Healy
18. John Ryan
19. Devin Toner
20. Peter O’Mahony
21. Luke McGrath
22. Paddy Jackson
23. Andrew Conway


15. Mike Brown
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Owen Farrell
11. Elliot Daly
10. George Ford
9. Ben Youngs

1. Joe Marler
2. Dylan Hartley (captain)
3. Dan Cole
4. Joe Launchbury
5. Courtney Lawes
6. Maro Itoje
7. James Haskell
8. Billy Vunipola


16. Jamie George
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Kyle Sinckler
19. Tom Wood
20. Nathan Hughes
21. Danny Care
22. Ben Te’o
23. Jack Nowell

It’s a sell-out at the Aviva Stadium and the atmosphere has been building in the capital all afternoon. Let us know where you’re watching this one from!

Ireland and England fans Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Tom Shepard, James Jervis, Mike Kiely and Kevin McCormack Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ireland and England fans Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

Not long until kick-off now, but to help whet the appetite here are some of our pre-match offerings from the Ireland camp at Carton House during the week:

We’ve been here before, with England arriving in Dublin chasing a clean sweep in the championship on three previous occasions — but only once have they left Lansdowne Road with the title of Grand Slam winners.

Here’s a closer look at those three games:

Oct 20, 2001: Ireland 20 England 14

David Wallace Source: INPHO

An outbreak of the foot and mouth livestock disease forced this match to be delayed by several months and Ireland made the most of England’s loss of momentum, with hooker Keith Wood scoring a well-worked try off a line-out peel move.

March 30, 2003: Ireland 6 England 42

Neil Back, Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill Source: INPHO

What had kicked off as a Grand Slam decider turned into a lopsided thrashing as England finally completed a clean sweep of Europe’s finest under coach Clive Woodward after several near misses. Martin Johnson, the England captain, set the tone by refusing to move his side from Ireland’s ‘space’ in the pre-match formalities with Irish president Mary McAleese. England added real rugby insult with a five-try thumping that marked the prelude to their World Cup triumph later the same year.

March 19, 2011: Ireland 24 England 8

Paul O'Connell Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With Johnson now their coach, England again arrived in Dublin on the verge of a Slam. But, eight years on, there was no repeat of their 2003 success as England were taken aback by an aggressive Irish display that yielded tries for Brian O’Driscoll and Tommy Bowe, with the boot of Jonathan Sexton piling on the agony for the visitors.

There’s a remarkable end to the game in Paris, where France have been camped on the Welsh line for the last 10 minutes. The result is of huge significance for Ireland with a Wales win meaning Ireland would have to beat England to stay inside the top four in the world rankings.

Rob Howley’s men lead 18-13 but have been playing the last few minutes with 14 men.

As the drama continues in Paris, the teams are out at the Aviva and the heavens have just opened. It’s absolutely tipping it down now as we get ready for the anthems.

An extraordinary series of events. The anthems are complete here at the Aviva Stadium but we WON’T kick off until the game in Paris is finished. France still camped on the Welsh line as the clock goes into the 98th minute.

TRY! France finally get over the Welsh line and they snatch victory in the 100th minute!

Now, all attention switches to the Aviva Stadium as Ireland and England wait to get underway. There’s a late, late change for the hosts as Joe Schmidt has been forced into a back row reshuffle with Jamie Heaslip dropping out and Peter O’Mahony starting at 6, with Stander switching to number eight.


We’re hearing Jamie Heaslip rolled his ankle during the warm-up. Incredibly unfortunate for the Leinster man.


Ben Youngs instantly tests Jared Payne’s handling and the fullback spills the ball, giving England a scrum inside the Ireland 22.


There was a minute’s silence before the game for Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and the other members of Rescue Team 116.

The Ireland team stand for a minute's silence in memory of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick of Rescue Team 116 Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Ireland team stand for a minute's silence in memory of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick of Rescue Team 116 Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


Solid defensive start for Ireland as they shut the door on England and then win a penalty in midfield. Sexton finds touch on this near touchline and Best finds Ryan.


Sustained period of pressure for Ireland as they knock on the English door. It’s a bit scrappy but Ireland work it out wide, where Payne bursts through the initial tackle and offloads for Earls.

But the Munster man loses the ball in contact and the chance is gone. We’re going back for a penalty advantage, however, and Sexton has pointed towards the points.

Flag 10Mins

Penalty! Ireland 3-0 England (Sexton)

No mistake from Sexton as Ireland are rewarded for their fast start with three points on the scoreboard.


Rory Best has trudged off for a HIA with Niall Scannell on in his place.


Frenetic start to the game with conditions making handling a little trickier. Ireland have had 74% of the early possession as we go back for an Irish scrum on the far side.

It’s very messy and Haskell just picks the ball up and suddenly England are on the front foot in the Irish 22. Elliot Daly stabs it through but runs out of space and the ball trickles out of play.


Huge intensity already with Ireland putting in some big defensive hits. Energy-sapping stuff and we’re only in the 16th minute.

Flag 17Mins

Penalty! Ireland 3-3 England (Farrell)

Ireland are penalised at the breakdown with Peter O’Mahony not rolling away and Farrell dissects the posts with his first effort from the tee. Rory Best, meanwhile, is back on having passed his HIA.


Itoje hits Sexton late and the out-half is slow to get back on his feet. The referee calls the English flanker over and has a word but it’s only a penalty. Sexton is back up and launches the penalty down the touchline.


Ireland metres from the line and piling the pressure on the English defence. The ball retention is superb and it results in a penalty. Sexton turns down the shot at the posts and kicks for the corner.


Jamie Heaslip who was a late withdrawl from the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Rory Best goes off injured Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Owen Farrell with Jonathan Sexton Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Flag 24Mins

TRY! Ireland 10-3 England (Henderson)

And it pays dividends! The rolling maul causes huge damage and Henderson dives over and gets it down. The TMO is asked to confirm the grounding but there’s no problem and Ireland have the first try of the evening.


A rare, rare mistake from Lawes as he takes his eye off the ball and knocks it on. The first rendition of ‘The Fields of Athenry’ reverberates around the Aviva. Great start from Ireland.


Oh that’s lovely. Ireland work it beautifully and Ringrose shows his acceleration before firing it out wide to Earls. The Munster man has acres of space to run into but when he’s cut down, Marmion gets a little excited and Ireland lose the ball.


Farrell dinks it over the Irish defence and Daly latches onto it, before being hit by a green shirt in midfield. England look to recycle the ball and stretch Ireland but Schmidt’s men stand firm and win the penalty. End-to-end stuff.


England have yet to get going. Ford looks to clear his lines but the ball goes straight out and we’re going all the way back to the English 22. Best again finds his man but England defend the rolling maul well and force the turnover. A chance for everyone inside the stadium to catch our breaths.


Ireland’s lineout and scrum has been very clinical so far, with O’Mahony central to that.


Farrell looks to run it from deep but Henshaw, Sexton and O’Brien wrap him up and force the turnover with Ireland awarded the scrum. The crowd know that’s a big moment. Three minutes until the break.


But Ireland are stopped in their tracks as O’Mahony is picked out for an off-the-ball tackle on Haskell. Ireland have been utterly dominant in this first half.


England look to finish the half with a flourish. Joseph gets space on the right for the first time and kicks it through, with Ireland scrambling in defence. Payne does well to come over and shepherd it out before the half-time whistle goes.

An incredibly physical and intense half of Test rugby with Iain Henderson’s try currently separating the sides. On possession and territory, Ireland should really have a greater lead as Joe Schmidt’s side have dominated proceedings.

Source: RBS 6 Nations/YouTube

We’re going to find out a lot about this English side in the next 40 minutes.


A change on either side with Andrew Conway on for Keith Earls for his international debut. Meanwhile, Vunipola has replaced Marler in the English front row.


Sean O’Brien is now down and receiving attention after making a hit on Mike Brown. He appeared to clash heads with Rory Best but he’s back up and ready to go again.

You just wonder how long Jared Payne is going to last with Ireland’s resources now being stretched. Schmidt has Paddy Jackson, Luke McGrath, Dan Leavy, Cian Healy, John Ryan and Devin Toner on the bench.


Conway’s first involvement comes under a Ben Young’s high ball but he knocks it on under pressure and it’s an England scrum on halfway.

Payne fields a high ball securely and Ireland have possession with Sexton attempting the loop and Itoje reads it. The hosts get a bit lucky as England are pinged for hands in the ruck.


That was really silly from McGrath. He comes in from the side and is clearly offside, thus gifting Farrell the chance to open the scoring in this second half and reduce the deficit.

Flag 51Mins

Penalty! Ireland 10-6 England (Farrell)

And he slots it over. That was just reckless from McGrath in such a tight game.


You get the feeling the game is just beginning to turn in England’s favour. The visiting fans find their voice for the first time as the English pack win a penalty and Farrell launches it down field.


Cracking atmosphere inside the Aviva now as ‘The Fields of Athenry’ rings around the ground once again and the players respond with a huge turnover to halt England’s momentum.

Sexton with the choke tackle on that occasion as Hartley makes way for Jamie George.


As the decibel levels are raised, these are crucial moments in this contest. It’s tight and extremely tense.


Payne isn’t held in the tackle and he gets back on his feet and cuts through. Suddenly he has space to run into and is eventually halted by Billy Vunipola, but it looks like that was a high tackle.

Ireland play on but McGrath’s pass out left is loose and Ringrose has to scramble and dive on the ball. It’s frenetic stuff out there.


Cian Healy is coming on for McGrath as we take a breather. 20 minutes remaining.


A change for England, too. Haskell is replaced by Tom Wood while former Leinster centre Ben Te’o is always preparing to enter the game.


Ireland v England - RBS 6 Nations - Aviva Stadium Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan

Ireland v England - RBS 6 Nations - Aviva Stadium Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan

Ireland v England - RBS 6 Nations - Aviva Stadium Source: Lorraine O'Sullivan


Sexton hit late again but Garces takes no further action despite Best making the case to the referee. The out-half has called for the tee and this is a big, big kick.

Flag 62Mins

Penalty! Ireland 13-6 England (Sexton)

Oh, Johnny you beauty! He strikes it sweetly and the ball drops over the bar.


Eddie Jones is unloading his bench. Nathan Hughes, Danny Care and Te’o replace Billy Vunipola, Youngs and Ford. Farrell switches to 10. Devin Toner is on for Ireland now as well.


Big hit by Ringrose but Conway takes Brown out in the air and England can find touch on this near side. Ireland’s defence under immense pressure now.


With a penalty advantage, Farrell launches one cross-field towards Payne and Watson with the former doing well to prevent the winger from getting anywhere near the ball. We’re going back for the penalty on this near side.


Penalty! Ireland 13-9 England (Farrell)

Farrell’s kick is good and we’re back to a four-point game with 13 minutes remaining.


Dan Leavy is on for Sean O’Brien and Jack Nowell replaces Anthony Watson on the English side. What a huge moment for Leavy, who wasn’t in the original squad before Heaslip’s late withdrawal.


Healy gives away a penalty at the scrum and this is incredibly tense now. Luke McGrath is on for his second international cap as Marmion makes way. England are on the front foot.


Ben Te’o is absolutely smashed — legally — by Henshaw and the England centre has absolutely no idea where he is. The medics escort him off the pitch and that’s the end of his evening.


The heavens have opened again and it’s pouring down out there now again. England have possession and the territory as the clock ticks towards the 72nd minute mark.

Henshaw makes another hit but he doesn’t role away and Garces awards England the penalty. Farrell opts for the corner. Nail-biting.


Niall Scannell is on for Best, and Ireland steal the line-out! Brilliant work from Peter O’Mahony.


Ireland v England - RBS 6 Nations - Aviva Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Ireland v England - RBS 6 Nations - Aviva Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Ireland v England - RBS 6 Nations - Aviva Stadium Source: PA Wire/PA Images


Pressure on the Irish scrum but they stand firm and eventually win the penalty thanks to Danny Care’s indiscipline. John Ryan is on for the last few minutes.


Standing ovation for Tadhg Furlong as he trudges off. The Leinster man is absolutely wrecked after another imperious shift. Ireland win the line-out and Healy has the ball at the back of the ball. Three minutes left…


What a kick from Luke McGrath! He box kicks in behind the English defence, and it trickles into touch on this near side a matter of yards from the England line. A huge roar goes up around the Aviva.


O’Mahony (who else?) rises highest but England turn it over and they’ll have one final chance to run it from their own 22. This is it, last chance saloon.


What an atmosphere now! ‘The Fields of Athenry’ rings around the Aviva as the clock strikes red. England look to spread it wide as Ireland throw everything into one final defensive effort.

Oh my word, what a finish to the championship as Ireland produced a huge performance to end the campaign on a high. We’ll have full reaction to follow very shortly.

Thanks for joining us for our minute-by-minute coverage this afternoon. Plenty more reaction to come from the Aviva Stadium throughout the evening. Until next time, goodbye!

About the author:

Ryan Bailey