THE IRISH WOLFHOUNDS earned a hard-fought 14-8 victory over the England Saxons at Kingsholm this evening.
Conditions made it difficult for individuals to impress watching Ireland manager Joe Schmidt, with both sides frequently making basic errors amid a mud-ridden pitch.
Ireland produced an assured start and were rewarded on four minutes, when Isaac Boss — who was later named as man-of-the-match — collected the ball from the forward pack and spotted a gap in the English defence, consequently crossing over for the first try of the game, with Ian Madigan then adding the conversion.
England were back in the game midway through the first half, however. Craig Gilroy failed to keep hold of a Felix Jones pass, and Anthony Watson caught the loose ball, comfortably sprinting through unchallenged thereafter to get his side off the mark.
Ireland then extended their advantage 10 minutes before half-time thanks to some quick-thinking from the impressive Ian Madigan.
After an Ireland attack was brought back for a penalty, the out-half caught the hosts off guard with a quick tap-and-go before subsequently showing his strength to drive over the try line, coolly slotting over the subsequent conversion.
The second half was an even scrappier affair than the first. Having missed more than one seemingly straightforward kick at goal, Freddie Burns finally added his name to the scoresheet on 63 minutes, when he slotted over a penalty to bring England within six points of their opponents.
In the dying stages, there were a few nervy moments, and in the final play of the game, Burns endured further woe, as he managed to let the ball slip from his hands with the try line seemingly at his mercy.
Ireland were thus rewarded for a committed defensive display in a game in which they by no means dominated, yet the level of ruthlessness they displayed during their rare opportunities in attack — in marked contrast with England’s continual inefficiency with ball in hand — ultimately proved the difference between the sides.