We went minute-by-minute as Joe Schmidt chased his first win since October.
Good afternoon. Sitting comfortably, are we? Sick to death of election chatter? Can’t handle another count in any constituency? Stick with us and we’ll bring you a politics free-zone (with a bit of England v Ireland thrown in).
It’s all over in Rome, and Scotland’s win there means only Italy sit below Ireland in the Six Nations table.
Here are the team-sheets for what, we hope, will be Ireland’s first win since October.
15. Mike Brown
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Owen Farrell
11. Jack Nowell
10. George Ford
9. Ben Youngs
1. Joe Marler
2. Dylan Hartley (captain)
3. Dan Cole
4. Maro Itoje
5. George Kruis
6. Chris Robshaw
7. James Haskell
8. Billy Vunipola
16. Jamie George
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Paul Hill
19. Courtney Lawes
20. Jack Clifford
21. Danny Care
22. Elliot Daly
23. Alex Goode
15. Rob Kearney
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Stuart McCloskey
11. Keith Earls
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Mike Ross
4. Donnacha Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jamie Heaslip
16. Richardt Strauss
17. Cian Healy
18. Nathan White
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Eoin Reddan
22. Ian Madigan
23. Simon Zebo
The teams are out at Twickenham. We’ll have a minute’s silence for Fiji and then some anthems (not great anthems, but it’s all these two teams have got).
We’re under way and bizarrely we’ve lost Ryle Nugent for ITV commentary.
As GSTQ rings out around Twickenham, I’ll make my prediction.
It’s about time Ireland won a game and I reckon today’s the today.
Ireland will scrape a narrow win, Josh van der Flier might even score a try on his debut on the back of a maul.
Our view from Twix…
Jonathan Sexton is looking mean in the opening phases, really purposeful passing, inviting carriers and steering clear of contact himself.
Wait, wait, he’s back! Lawrence Dallaglio fades out of our ears and the dulcet tones of Donal Lenihan are back in their rightful place.
PENALTY! England 0 Ireland 3 (Sexton ’5)
Good chase from Andrew Trimble to hit Mike Brown as he lands.
We’ll set up a scrum 10 metres inside the English half.
Ireland win the first penalty. Advantage Jack McGrath over Dan Cole.
Both defences are well on top of the danger men. Devin Toner slams in to Billy V before he can get a head of steam and England are rushing two men to Stuart McCloskey.
Farrell is pinged for a neck roll on Keith Earls and Ireland can start with a line-out in Engllish territory.
Excellent strike from 40 minutes and an angle from Sexton super penalty.
Paul Gustard’s defence is in rude health, forcing Ireland right back and winning a penalty after a turnover.
PENALTY! England 3 Ireland 3 (O Farrell ‘ 11)
England’s centre nails it from the centre, 40 metres out.
Ireland’s line-out in the English 22 is sacked good and early and they do really well to get in McCloskey’s face too. A knock-on from Best is kicked on and Ireland are on the back foot, Rob Kearney dived down and secured possession before Sexton cleared.
England called offisde and Sexton can kick again to the 10 metre mark.
Ireland spending a worrying amount of time in our own half. England build momentum, but a Ryan tackle forces a brilliant breakdown turnover in front of the posts.
Sexton shapes to clear, but cuts back and passes to Earls. The Munster man threatens a bust, but thinks better of it and kicks clear.
Ireland come close to a break off that line-out, but Garces penalised Henshaw for obstruction.
Farrell’s penalty, from the same point as his first score, veers right and wide!
Handling is letting Ireland down. Trimble fails to grasp a JVDF pass and we’re back at the scrum.
England won a penalty from that scrum and from the maul Billy V sneaked away. He mowed down Trimble, but BIG CJ STANDER raced back to hit the number eight out of touch.
Under the posts!
Vunipola went on another storming run until CJ dragged him down. Robshaw went burrowing under the posts, but we’d be surprised if there’s an angle to confirm a try.
The last angle showed the ball down on the line, but the TMO takes up Poite’s option to call it a double movement. That’s a big let-off for Ireland, but credit to Stu McCloskey who got his knee in to halt Robshaw in the nick of time.
Edge of the seat stuff. McCloskey puts the ball down on the edge of the 22 and England can pile on the pressure.
Sexton nails a man and ball tackle and it looks like Ireland survive, but it’s called a knock on by touch judge Nigel Owens.
THE GREAT ESCAPE!
Mike Ross earns a penalty for Ireland and Sexton drills the pill all the way down to halfway.
This is Alamo stuff from Ireland. Enormous defensive effort being put in. George Kruis made a gainline beyond the five metre line and had his arm moving forward to plant on the line when Rory Best arm-wrestled him back.
Improbably, Ireland are on the verge of surviving this onslaught. A pass to Watson skims forward on the turf and it’s a green scrum.
Every time Ireland move to attack in midfield, England’s defence is doing an incredible job of driving them back.
CJ Stander is pinged for going in from the side after Rob Kearney is wrapped up and Owen Farrell lines it up…
PENALTY! England 6 Ireland 3 (O Farrell ’34)
There goes Henshaw!
The centre broke from his own half and made 40 metres, did really well to recycle too, but the move breaks down soon after help arrives.
HALF-TIME: England 6 Ireland 3
PHEW! Ireland survive another intense set of English phases that took them all the way from their 10 metre line to the 22.
Ireland’s defence is superb in the red zone, but we’re melting off all to easily in the middle of the park.
Ireland are mighty fortunate to be within a kick of England. The hosts have thoroughly dominated the first half possession and territory.
Ireland have already put in over 90 tackles in this game, close to what you’d expect from a small 80-minute total.
Here we go then, the second half is under way.
James Haskell is in trouble, he’s gone and hit Conor Murray with a swinging arm…
SIN-BIN: James Haskell is off for 10 minutes.
Ireland have kicked to the corner instead of aiming at the posts.
Ireland have a bit of a swagger about them now as English doubts begin to fester.
Sexton spun it wide after McCloskey made yards up the right and Earls’ chip ahead is perfect, chased and bundled out of touch after Brown takes.
TRY! England 6 Ireland 8 (C Murray ’45)
Toner takes, England drive back, but Best saves it and Murray is in!
Excellent awareness from Murray, sniping in on the blindside to touch down on the line.
Sexton lines up the conversion aaaaaand….
England 6 Ireland 10
PENALTY! England 9 Ireland 10 (O Farrell ’50)
Important score for England, Ireland have been well on top since half time.
The set of phases ends with a lost ruck on the England 22, but Ireland are looking by far the more dangerous side now, finding weak shoulders and half breaks.
England look a little out of gas.
Ooof! Johnny Sexton is holding his chest again, just like the neck injury that ended his game against Wales early.
The hit from Youngs flared up the injury, but it looked plenty fair.
TRY! England 14 Ireland 10 (A Watson ’57)
TRY! England 19 Ireland 10 (M Brown ’62)
Jack Nowell’s break down the right was thwarted, but Ireland just couldn’t sustain the scramble defence and so when England work it wide, they find a four man overlap which Watson finishes.
Farrell misses the conversion though.
The replacements bench has been tilted on to the field. Nathan White and Cian Healy are on in the front row.
Robbie Henshaw crashed into the corner after an excellent break from Sexton, but it looks like Nowell did just enough to stop him.
Henshaw was in touch and dropped the ball over the line. We’ll have a line-out.
Ultan DIllane is on for his debut, he follows Simon Zebo who replaced Stu McCloskey.
That, you have to think, is that. England again profit from the power they generate close to the ruck and Mike Brown skates in on the right side after Ford stretches the defence.
Farrell nails the conversion too.
England 21 Ireland 10
England are defending the line-out well, but there is still time for Ireland if we can steal a try here.
OH NO. England steal the line-out.
Even at international level, Ultan DIllane looks a big big man. He’s doing well as Ireland go through phases in search of a late score.
He combines with jvdf and comes close to a try, but England spoil and give away the penalty.
Confusion reigned in front of the posts. TMO was asked to check for foul play as Murray went off for a blood sub.
TMO called the kick to Murray’s head “accidental” and Care was carded for killing the ball.
TRY? Josh Van Der Flier crashes over, but we’re with the TMO again.
The scrum penalty goes against Ireland and England celebrate a third step towards a Grand Slam.
No sign of a grounded ball there, Scrum V Ireland continue to threaten, but England will not be breached easily.
FULL-TIME: England 21 Ireland 10