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Dublin: 5 °C Saturday 28 March, 2020


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John Cooney grabs the kicking tee and nails a fine conversion after Ireland daubed a heavy coat of gloss on very poor performance in Twickenham.


TRY! England 24 Ireland 10 (Porter ’82)


England were content to kick possession away rather than bag a fourth try. They ship a penalty then as Ireland run it back and Byrne kicks for the corner.

Opportunity to put lipstick on this pig.


Cooney comes up with another jinking run after taking an offload from Stockdale. It’s enough to make you wonder what might have been if selection had been braver from the outset in this Championship.

A cross-field kick is aimed at Peter O’Mahony, but it bounces out of the blindside’s reach and he supermans over the flag and onto the turf.


A let-off for Ireland as Ross Byrne flings a desperate skip pass across the line and is very close to being picked off.

Earls picks up the spilled ball and Ireland mount a dangerous attack through Caelan Doris and Cooney on the left.

A rare sight of positive play, but it’s brought to a crushing end by a breakdown penalty.

England don’t look all that bothered about making this a bonus point win, but they have seven minutes to give this statement performance a maximum return.


Some moves, switches and changes to update you about.

Andrew Conway is off with a HIA. Jordan Larmour has been replaced, so Ross Byrne and Keith Earls have come in to give us a backline of: 

Stockdale, Earls, Aki, Sexton, Henshaw, Byrne, Cooney.

Sexton gives up the 10 slot and also the kicking responsibilities as Ross Byrne kicks a penalty to touch.


Even John Cooney’s peerless confidence looks well shook now. May comes through a ruck to knock the ball from his hands and the scrum-half is standing looking for a decision as the ball is picked up and ran towards the try-line.

Henshaw comes across, May kicks ahead and the Athlone man makes sure to clatter him.

Fortunately, no decision comes from Jaco Peyper and Cooney gets to the loose ball.

England’s maul forces their third try of the day and the Exeter hooker is on hand to finish.

Farrell takes aim at the conversion and the connection is a beaut.

England 24 Ireland 5


Ellis Genge is winning his scrum battle as England maraud forward in the set-piece and win a penalty deep in Ireland’s 22.

As if that’s not bad enough, James Ryan lets all the frustration of the day show as he lunges to punch an English player.

Owen Farrell has a look of sheer delight on his face when the fist flies past him.

England look in dude health attacking in Ireland’s third again. They make yards with almost every carry and Ireland breath a sigh of relief when Daly knocks on out on the right flank.


Andy Farrell may have belatedly found the solution to Sexton’s kicking woes as John Cooney is getting stripped and ready to come into the game.

The Ulster man was the form player in the country over the full season, but could not earn a starting place in the new-look Irish camp.


Excellent power through contact from Peter O’Mahony to get Ireland to the line and, with offside penalties coming, Murray hits Henshaw and he barges through Farrell to ground the ball over the whitewash.

Sexton’s fitness for this match looks increasingly iffy. He shunts another kick well wide of the target.


Ireland keep the pressure coming on the English line, but they are too hesitant with a penalty advantage.

Good chance to attack from a central scrum…


Another entertaining scuffle involving CJ. Owen Farrell is clamped on his leg on the wrong side of the ruck and Stander lays three or four thumps into the England captain’s ribs.

The slow-mo replay shows that some of the latter shows were probably open handed, but after Farrell comes complaining that ‘you can’t just punch people’ the TMO sides with Stander and, oddly enough, says he’s clearly not punching him.


Signs of an upturn in pace and intensity in Ireland’s attack, but Itoje does brilliantly to roll Kilcoyne and strip the ball.

Jordan Larmour looked in some discomfort at the bottom of a ruck then, but he is up again and shaking himself loose.


The teams are out at Twickenham for the second half.

Will it bring a momentous comeback, silver linings or more of the same?


The end to a flummoxing first-half performance from Ireland.

With two weeks of a build-up – after suffering two trouncings to England last year – they haven’t shown up, conceding soft tries, failing to execute basic skills and looking bereft of answers to England’s physicality.

It’s a sadly familiar tale for a team who was desperate to forget 2019.


PENALTY! England 17 Ireland 0 (Farrell ’39)


England are quickly back on the attack and very nearly get a third try as Underhill rolls around Conway. He looks ready to burst the 15 metres for the line, but Rob Herring gets a vital ankle tap in to stop him.


England’s line-speed is suffocation Ireland. Sexton makes the effort to move it wide to Aki, but he’s wrapped up and shut down.

The green attacking line loses 10 more metres on the next phase as Itoje comes up hard. 

Ireland kick, England return and Murray is hit as he carries almost blithely into contact.

Fortunately, the breakdown penalty goes against England and Ireland relieve pressure by kicking for a line-out on the 22.


Cian Healy was forced off injured after that sorry second try. Dave Kilcoyne will have a big job on his hands to help turn the tide for Ireland.

Those tries are devastating blows to hopes here. While England were favourites, Andy Farrell’s regime promised an improvement in mood and confidence, but this Ireland side look just as edgy and uncertain as (mostly) the same players in 2019.


You have to say, that is another howler to concede by Ireland.

Ford chips right of the posts, Jacob Stockdale does the hard part, picking up his stride and getting in position to claim the bouncing ball. Then, he mystifyingly pulls up expecting the ball to bobble safely out.

Elliot Daly was in hot pursuit and was expecting the ball to bounce his way and he duly touched down as he slid for the chance.

England 14 Ireland 0


A poor clearance from Conor Murray invites the back three to attack and Jonathan Joseph makes a brilliant series of cuts to get through the line.

Distractingly, CJ Stander is defending shirtless after he, James Ryan and Maro Itoje had a good aul’ scuffle around the fringes.


We haven’t seen anything yet to suggest Ireland can upset form guide of the last two matches between the side.

Marler wins a scrum penalty and they set up a line-out five metres from the Irish try-line.

O’Mahony comes up with a brilliant line-out disruption and brings a knock-on from Courtney Lawes.


There’s a skirmish win for Ireland. George Ford slices a cross-field kick behind Jonny May and Robbie Henshaw hounds the winger down.

Scrum green comes on the next phase.


Oh dear. Oh very dear.

This has not been a very good opening 14 minutes for Jonathan Sexton. He drills a 30 metre penalty with a heavy clunk and sends it low and left of the posts.


Jonny May and Itoje gift Ireland a penalty off the restart and kick for the corner.

Big Dev takes, but there’s no maul attack available. Sexton kicks wide and Conway wins the aerial threat.

Another penalty comes for Ireland and this time the skipper will take on the kick…


A disaster for Jonathan Sexton. Youngs kicks in behind Ireland’s posts and the out-half is first to the ball ahead of Jordan Larmour. 

Rather than tap down for a 22 drop-out Sexton looks intent to play the ball out, but in trying to slap it up for himself, he spills at the feet of a grateful George Ford.

Farrell taps over the easy conversion to a gift of a try.

England 7 Ireland 0


England show their big obvious and very-difficult-to-stop tactic of running Manu into Sexton off a line-out.

Lawes makes a big carry too and England look dangerous as they go to the left corner, but Joseph runs out of room and the knock-on comes from Lawes on the next carry.


Ireland lay a big marker on Underhill as O’Mahony and Ryan connect and drive him back two metres from the gainline.

England don’t let themselves get rattled though and the kick behind is gathered by Murray on his five metre line. The pressure comes, but Ireland do well to at least clear their lines.

George Ford kicks off deep into Irish territory.

Conor Murray clears the lines nicely back to halfway.

The teams are out at Twickers and Peter O’Mahony is belting out Ireland’s Call with little regard for Johnny Sexton’s eardrums.

Kick-off is fast approaching at Twickenham.

If you took heart and were celebrating Ireland managing to win at three levels over the opening two rounds of the Championship, you might want to avert your eyes from the scoreboard at Doncaster this afternoon where England hosted Ireland in the Women’s Six Nations (the match report is here for the real rugby fans).

Here’s how the sides will line up today.

A big return for Devin Toner was a relatively late change for Ireland as Iain Henderson was needed at home. The sight of Manu Tuilagi on the other side will surely be a focal point for England’s attack today.


15. Elliot Daly
14. Jonny May 
13. Manu Tuilagi 
12. Owen Farrell (captain)
11. Jonathan Joseph 
10. George Ford
9. Ben Youngs

1. Joe Marler
2. Jamie George
3. Kyle Sinckler
4. Maro Itoje 
5. George Kruis
6. Courtney Lawes
7. Sam Underhill
8. Tom Curry


16. Luke Cowan-Dickie
17. Ellis Genge
18. Will Stuart 
19. Joe Launchbury
20. Charlie Ewels
21. Ben Earl
22. Willi Heinz
23. Henry Slade 


15. Jordan Larmour
14. Andrew Conway
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton (captain)
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rob Herring
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Josh van der Flier
8. CJ Stander


16. Ronan Kelleher
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Andrew Porter
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Caelan Doris
21. John Cooney
22. Ross Byrne
23. Keith Earls

Referee: Jaco Peyper [SARU].

We’ve been counting down to this one for all 54 days of 2020 so far. It’s finally here, the most difficult test yet for Andy Farrell’s Ireland side.

The new coach hasn’t exactly brought a new look to the XV, but there are definitely different moods about the place after they showed some attacking chops in the bonus point win over Wales.

England, led by none other than Faz’ first-born son, will be lining up at Twickenham for the first time since their epic World Cup experience.

That, of course, ended on a sour note and Eddie Jones is coming under increasing pressure for a variety of reasons since. A win for the Australian would ease a great deal of that pressure.

Kick-off is at 3pm, so you still have time to walk the dog and put the kettle on before settling in for a cracker.

About the author:

Sean Farrell


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