A BRILLIANT SECOND half display pushed Ireland from 20 – 6 down to a remarkable 20 – 26 win away to England. Here are some of the men who made it happen
He has been Ireland’s stand-out player of the Championship by some distance and continued to build on his immense promise throughout the 80 minutes tonight.
Aside from adding mere muscle to Ireland’s efforts, the lock guides the pack with real intelligence as he showed when he punished a sleeping English maul defence by scoring his own try.
As great players tend to do though, his finest moment came when the game was right in the balance. Ryan showed off his blend of power and finesse with a gorgeous offload to Andrew Porter.
Even when Ireland were on the back foot in a difficult first half, the Cork Con centre was an invaluable part of the resistance.
Like many team-mates, he was guilty of the odd unforced error in the first half, but his breakdown efforts played a big part in keeping the score down when England looked capable of pulling well clear. Daly then kept that energy up in the second half and made his presence felt in attack.
The Sligo scrum-half will have made head coach Nigel Carolan proud with a display full of pace and accuracy.
His service to Johnny McPhillips was vital in pinning England back and he made sure the tempo lifted when England got their first sin-binning.
Ireland could have easily crumbled when Jack Power and then Jimmy O’Brien were forced off early, but Byrne stepped in for Power after five minutes and attacked every opportunity.
The Terenure wing still had a lot to do when given his chance to score in the corner, but he showed terrific strength and agility to launch himself through tacklers while keeping his feet well out of touch while grounding the ball.
The Newcastle playmaker was at home in Kingston Park, but while he has plenty of experience at out-half and fullback, playing 60 minutes as an international centre was still a big ask.
Connon replaced O’Brien midway through the first-half, but in the second period he partnered well with McPhillips to give a real ‘second five-eighth’ dimension to Ireland’s attack. He laid on Byrne’s try and followed up with an absolutely brilliant touchline conversion from the right – the more difficult angle for a right footed kicker.
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