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Dublin: 2°C Thursday 13 May 2021


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Thanks for stopping in and watching Ireland’s last warm-up with us. The second half did at least bring a few positives, but all in all we’ll be looking for a big improvement when Joe Schmidt’s side go in to competitive action in two weeks’ time.

BOOM! Sam Burgess just smashed Ian Madigan out of his boots and shoves Ireland on the back foot to chase the kick back to their 22.

Madigan spins a pass on the shortside off a scrum, but the chance of stealing a win is lost now as Heaslip is penalised for holding on.

75 mins: Ireland are stuggling to get hands on the ball now since Madigan moved to 10. A lot of time spent on the back foot too since O’Connell pulled Ireland within a score.

Surprise surprise Owen Farrell gets a telling off for talking back to the ref. But he gets it as he goes to line up a penalty as Ireland went offside at the maul.

PENALTY! England 18 Ireland 13 (Farrell ’72)

Simon Zebo has been called off injured and Tadhg Furlong wins his second cap. We don’t expect him to go in as an outside back though.

68 mins: Ha. The TMO chalks another off for England as Tom Wood took the ball from a man behind him in the ruck before trucking it up to set up Wigglesworth.

68 mins: Jonny May collects on the left flank and cuts back between defenders but he’s dragged down well before the tryline.

England have a huge overlap, but they absolutely butcher it with an awful pass.

Still, they come again with Wigglesworth. Strauss thinks he has him held up. We’re with the TMO to make sure.

Jared Payne stripped of possession just as we’re saying how well he’s playing. There are big bodies hobbling all over the field.

Can England pull clear now? Can Ireland come from behind to win?

65 mins: Oof! England look a bit mystified now as the ball bounces off Launchbury. We’ll take a scrum on half-way.

Sexton has been replaced after a second wince-inducing kick. Ian Madigan will move over to 10.

Dave Kearney was off as a blood sub, hence the delay for that change.

63 mins: A good scrum from Ireland after a nice set in defence. Sexton pulls up with cramp though after slicing his kick out to the 22. Madigan and Cave are now in the game, so no replacement if Sexton does need to ice up.

England have Burgess, Farrell and Wigglesworth on the field. As Stu Barnes points out, it’s a combination built for a simpler style of rugby, ideal for closing out a narrow lead.

58 mins: England laying siege to Ireland’s 22 until a big POC turnover sets Henshaw and Zebo on the counter, but Henshaw’s pass is clearly forward and Owens doesn’t waste time letting them know.

55 minutes, you’ve worked hard to get back in the game and then the home side roll out Billy Vunipola. Brace yourself, this game is going to be great for the next 35 minutes.

55 mins: As the game goes in  the melting pot, it’s also sweeping from end to end. England are roaring back now despite Brown appearing to take a knock.

Sexton steals and give s Ireland a chance to clear which Reddan does excellently. This is light years better from Ireland.

54 mins: Ireland finally nail a set play and as they rumble around the right corner of the ruck with Heaslip, before Best clears out and Paulie does what Paulie does, bullocking over from five metres.

Sexton converts:

England 15 Ireland 13

Game on.

Ireland have their tails up here. Excellent work by Heaslip helps Ireland turn over and they go chasing down the left. Ford fumbles, but shovels the ball to Watson at second time of asking who clears out.

PENALTY! England 15 Ireland 6 (Sexton ’50)

49 mins: Now we’re cooking. Ireland going wide-wide to keep England guessing and we’re consistently getting over the line. After raiding left and right, Paulie blasts up the middle and the defence is pinged for holding on.


PENALTY! England 15 Ireland 3 (Ford ’47)

Anything Sexto can do… Ford lands his penalty on the bar and it bounces over to get the Chariot back in motion.

46 mins: You want positives from this sombre atmosphere? Ireland have kept the penalty count low. Owens pinged the scrum in midfield here and, I think, it’s the second penalty Ireland have conceded.

Ford points for the posts.

44 mins: A good set of phases for Ireland, there’s Sexton creating a loop and stretching England to the right. The white wall is up to it though.

Tommy Bowe looks better early doors here. A good carry in midfield sets Ireland up in good field positions.

Off a following line-out Henshaw rams over the gain line and Ireland are looking good here in a very quiet Twickenham

Right, a whole new 40 minutes ahead of us and Ireland are only 9 points down at the start of it.

Ah, here. First play of the second period is a knock-on off the restart.


A half break from Mike Ross on the right looks to have England stretched and Kearney has a chance on the left. He’s forced back inside, but Ireland still have a chance to steal a way back in to the game until Sean O’Brien knocks on as he tries to bulldoze in from 6 metres.

HALF-TIME: England 12 Ireland 3

Chance for Ireland then as May knocked on after Brown’s offload. Scrum right in the middle of the imaginary final third line.

39 mins: Ireland look a little better approaching the half-time whistle, some very simple one-out phases are inviting Sean O’Brien, Jack McGrath and Rory Best in to the game.

Sexton clips a ball over the top and Zebo goes in chase with Heaslip, but Brown nips in and snags the ball.

Ireland should be very grateful to into the sheds only nine points down.

36 mins: Ben Youngs proves the bounce is going England’s way, his kick looks a little over cooked, but it skitters off in to touch for a five-metre line-out.

Zebo is again the man told to clear.

35 mins: This is a frantic phase of play. Watson breaks and is would be clean through if not for Jonathan Sexton dragging him down. Tommy Bowe is tasked with clearing lines and he fails to make touch, back come England. Not quite as probing this time, but they settle for pinning Ireland on the 22 with a grubber kick.

32 mins: A good defending decision from Dave Kearney gets Ireland back in business and they go and win a penalty in the opposition half. Sexton goes for a line-out rather than points…


…  but the line-out is LOST!

This bloody half can’t end soon enough.

30 mins: No. Signs of life from Ireland’s scrum brilliantly winning a turnover. Alas, the wind in the green sails quickly dies down again as England poach in a ruck and we’re on our back feet again  with May chasing a ball deep in to Ireland’s half and giving the back three nightmares.

Right, post-concussion, post- let-off, let’s see if we can get in to this game. Sexton is just finding is so hard to get any sort of platform and then he gives both barrells of his frustration to Mike Ross after the prop is guilty of a knock-on.


Try disallowed. It’s still England 12 Ireland 3

But aside from the last pass it was excellent flowing rugby from England. At the minute they look capable of tearing Ireland open at will.

Oh, wait. TMO is looking at Youngs’ pass to May.

22 mins: Ireland look at sixes and sevens now. After a few phases off the line-out, they set up a maul and Reddan box kicked from the back into the heart of the 22. Mark easily called by Brown. Bizarre stuff from Ireland. Unusually directionless at the minute.

20 mins: Right, we need to shake off that injury and get back to the matter at hand. Sexton has kicked Ireland to a good attacking platform just outside the 22 and the green machine is aiming to patiently rack up a few phases.

Murray was up and alert soon after the doctors got on the field and he ran off to the touchline.

conor muray

But Eoin Reddan is Ireland’s last remaining fit scrum-half now (that happened sooner than we thought).


15 mins: It goes from bad to worse. Conor Murray was knocked out in the last phase of play and lay prone, face down on the ground.

England’s line-out and maul on the left was solid, but Ford looks up and sends a kick across for Watson to compete with Zebo. Today’s fullback looks favourite to take it, but Watson comes down in possession and turns to touch the ball down.

Ford missed the conversion.

Tommy Bowe is having a bit of a howler in these first 12 minutes. He takes the high ball and looks to need a deep breath before hoisting a Garryowen. The wing then runs straight in to trouble and England look very dangerous running the loose ball back down Ireland’s right wing.

Ben Morgan showing a serious leg drive to get over Jamie Heaslip and the gainline.

Ford’s kick behind Ireland is well dealt with by Zebo, kicking long back in to England’s half and his chase stops the quick line-out too.

PENALTY! England 7 Ireland 3 (Sexton ’7)

Brilliantly struck penalty from Sexton, on target all the way and fortunately is just about had the legs too. The ball bounced off the bar and through the posts to raise the flags.

6 mins: Ireland have to come from behind again and that’s not usually the scenario Schmidt’s side have enjoyed.

Sexton is lining up a chance to get on the board though after May gave away a cheap penalty by taking Kearney in the air.

George Ford adds the conversion from the touchline, but Tommy Bowe will be seriously disappointed with an awful missed tackle on May inches from the touchline. Once May was past Bowe, Zebo could only grab on to a leg.

5 mins: England 7 Ireland 0

Mike Brown gets up a bit of speed on the outside left and Bowe has to battle to drag him down. England manage to recycle scrappy ball and Zebo is called on again to tackle Jonny May as he attempts to build up some steam.

After a phase, Zebo is called upon to use his left boot and he clears his lines well from the goal line.

Nigel Owens sounds his whistle and George Ford gets us underway. He drops it on Simon Zebo in the middle of the 22.

Bam! That’s the last set of anthems we’ll have to listen to for a fortnight. Here comes the kick-off.

The teams are out, the flamethrowers are spitting and Twickenham is roaring for their purple-clad heroes before we hear the anthems.

No reported late changes to the sides. Here’s the line-ups announced by England and Ireland on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.


15. Mike Brown
14. Anthony Watson
13. Jonathan Joseph
12. Brad Barritt
11. Jonny May
10. George Ford
9. Ben Youngs

1. Joe Marler
2. Tom Youngs
3. Dan Cole
4. Courtney Lawes
5. Geoff Parling
6, Tom Wood
7. Chris Robshaw (capt)
8. Ben Morgan


16. Jamie George
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Kieran Brookes
19. Joe Launchbury
20. Billy Vunipola
21. Richard Wigglesworth
22. Owen Farrell
23. Sam Burgess


15. Simon Zebo
14. Tommy Bowe
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Dave Kearney
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Mike Ross
4. Devin Toner
5. Paul O’Connell (captain)
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Sean O’Brien
8. Jamie Heaslip


16. Richardt Strauss
17. Tadhg Furlong
18. Nathan White
19. Donnacha Ryan
20. Chris Henry
21. Eoin Reddan
22. Ian Madigan
23. Darren Cave

Former Ireland skipper Lynne Cantwell is spoiling for a row in her walk up to Twickers.

Look out for Cantwell’s views on the Rugby World Cup over the next two months on a website not very far from here….

…That’s here, The42. The website / app you’re reading right now.

It’s a landmark cap for Ireland’s number 8, a 3/4 century.

Jamie Heaslip's jersey Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

And  of course, every cap is a big one for Paul O’Connell. We’ll enjoy him while we have him.

Paul O'Connell's jersey Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

England are continuing to make the most of home advantage, asking visiting teams to walk the gauntlet of supporters outside the ground. Really ads a nice extra bit of tension to the pre-match mood.

The Ireland team arrive Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Above, Dave Kearney leads Robbie Henshaw, Rory Best, Conor Murray Tommy Bowe and Jordi Murphy. Below a gam-ready Mike Ross follows Jonathan Sexton and Rob Kearney.

match gaun

Good afternoon, Ireland. We hope you’ve enjoyed your jam-packed sporting weekend so far, because there’s a hell of a lot more still to come.

The sun is shining, there’s a World Cup around the corner, two provinces enjoyed home wins in the Pro12 last night and Ireland have invaded the home dressing room in Twickenham.

We’re still an hour from kick-off in London, but while you’re shovelling in some pre-match fuel, be sure to let us know your thoughts on the game. Comment below, join us on Facebook or tweet us @Rugby_ie.

About the author:

Sean Farrell