Revenge is a dish best served cold and that’s what England got as they defeated Ireland 32-20 at the Aviva Stadium on the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

Cian Healy grabbed Ireland’s first try while Ulster’s own John Cooney scored a consolation with two minutes remaining.

Ireland were on immediately on the back foot when England capitalized on Keith Earls shooting beyond the line. Elliot Daly was left with a two on one with Jonny May and the winger scored the opening try after 90 seconds.

Ireland received a boost after 12 minutes when Tom Curry was shown a yellow card for a hit on Keith Earls but it wasn’t until after the Sale returned that Ireland crossed the whitewash. Cian Healy bludgeoned his way over after England managed to halt a rolling maul.

The three point lead didn’t last long as England were gifted a second try. Deep inside the Irish half, Elliot Daly put in a lovely weighted kick for Nowell to chase and the Exeter Chief put on enough pressure on Jacob Stockdale to force the knock on and allow Daly to touch down.

England were unlucky not to score their third try on the stroke of half time. Jerome Garces adjudged Mako Vunipola to have moved twice in the process of scoring after a crooked lineout from Rory Best. On first viewing it looked a harsh decision however other angles showed a double movement in Vunipola’s legs. It’s one of those decisions which I can understand why Garces made it however if the shoe was on the other foot and Ireland had a try disallowed for that reason, I would have been disappointed.

The first half was surprisingly open for the first round but that was largely down to England’s impressive back three. England pressure forced Ireland on the back foot which led to mistakes and gave England a deserved break at the interval.

Ireland stepped up the pressure in the second half. A quicker line speed put England under pressure and they nearly capitalized after a great Garry Ringrose tackle. Sexton was unable to find the support in the outside channels but the ball was recycled and Ireland eventually ground out a penalty which was converted by the Leinsterman.

England looked to have won the game when Henry Slade gathered a gorgeous dink from Jonny May to put two scores between the sides with 15 minutes left before Owen Farrell secured the win when he slotted a 45m penalty after a great turnover from Tom Curry. Garces went upstairs to check for offside in the build up to try but should have checked the pass from Slade to May which was forward.

England kept Ireland on the back foot and in a position that they were not used to being in. With Ireland rattled, Slade picked off a risky pass from Johnny Sexton to secure the try bonus point.

Ireland were comprehensively outplayed by England in both defence and attack. John Cooney scored a consolation try with 20 seconds left but in truth, England didn’t look like losing in the second half.

Their high defensive line speed prevented Ireland from getting any ball to their wings and was led by Henry Slade in the 13 channel. It also restricted Ireland’s creativity meaning that they were often hit with the ball behind the gain line. England’s terrific defence won them the game and I’m sure defence coach John Mitchell will have a few pints bought for him tonight.

It was a bad day at the office for Ireland but it could be the reality check needed for Joe Schmidt’s men heading into a tough calendar year. Next up is a trip to Murrayfield to take on a buoyant Scottish side next Saturday.

5.5 Awesome

There were too many underperformers from Ireland today but much of it was down to England’s immense performance. Jacob Stockdale was given no space at all and any time he got the ball he was well covered by a superbly drilled English defence.
Garry Ringrose offered a few classy touches from outside centre including a superbly taken high ball in the first half as well as defeating six defenders, the most on the pitch.

  • Cian Healy 6
  • Rory Best 6
  • Tadhg Furlong 6
  • Devin Toner 6
  • James Ryan 5
  • Peter O'Mahony 5
  • Josh vd Flier 6
  • CJ Stander 6
  • Conor Murray 6
  • Johnny Sexton 6
  • Jacob Stockdale 5
  • Bundee Aki 5
  • Garry Ringrose 8
  • Keith Earls 4
  • Robbie Henshaw 4
  • Sean Cronin N/A
  • Dave Kilcoyne 5
  • Andrew Porter 5
  • Quinn Roux 5
  • Sean O'Brien 5
  • John Cooney N/A
  • Joey Carbery N/A
  • Jordan Larmour 5
  • User Ratings (2 Votes) 2.4
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