Ireland suffered their first defeat of the 2021 six Nations following a 15 – 24 defeat to England at Cardiff Arms Park on Thursday evening.
It was a disappointing game as defences dominated, causing over 50 passing/handling errors and 27 penalties. Both teams were too focused on not losing to offer much creative in attack as the English pack steamrollered their Irish counterparts.
Ireland (0) 15
TRY: Alex Soroka, Eoin de Buitléar
CON: Nathan Doak
PEN: Nathan Doak
England (7) 24
TRY: Nahum Merigan, Ewan Richards (2), Sam Riley
CON: Fin Smith (2)
The problem when you rely on a physical game is that when you meet a more physical team you have nowhere to go. Ireland expected a physical challenge from their opponents, but trying to match them was a big mistake by the coaching team.
England opened the scoring on the 16th minute after Nathan Doak had missed an early penalty chance for Ireland. The England score came from a driving maul with No 8 Nahum Merigan breaking off to score, Fin Smith adding the conversion.
Ireland looked for a response and they had their moments but the back line spent most of their time going backwards in attack. However their big physical effort kept England out for the remainder of the half despite losing Chris Cosgrave for persistent offsides on the 36th minute.
Ireland opened their account at the start of the second half with Doak knocking over a penalty on the 43rd minute but England were able to take advantage of their extra man when the game opened up following a missed touch by Doak, quick hands putting Ewan Richards over out wide for an unconverted try to give England 3 – 12 lead.
England extended their lead nine minutes later when Richards kicked through a dropped pass for this second unconverted try which moved the score to 3 – 17 on the 54th minute.
A couple of high tackles from the England bruisers went largely unpunished due to poor TMO responses. If the Six Nations can’t protect the players due to the quality of the available officials they should end the tournament now. A poor decision in the France Wales game was followed by another in this game as Merigan got off with a yellow card after a, match ending, high tackle on Ireland’s captain Alex Kendellen.
A sense of injustice saw Ireland drive up to the England line for the impressive Alex Soroka to score. Doak added the conversion to make it a seven point game as the score moved to 10 – 17.
England looked to their forwards and five minutes later Sam Riley muscled over off a line out maul, Smith’s conversion taking the score to 10 – 24.
Ireland’s Eoin de Buitléar made his frustrations count with a try, when he finally got on the pitch. The Connacht youngster the victim of some poor communication from the Ireland management which saw him pulled back from making an appearance three times in this game.
The conversion was missed and Ireland’s chances of a losing bonus disappeared when they rushed a late penalty.
There is really not a lot more to add. Ireland tried hard but were out muscled and with the Ireland backline going backwards in possession the game reached it’s inevitable conclusion.
IRELAND: Jamie Osborne, Ben Moxham, Shane Jennings, Cathal Forde, Chris Cosgrave, Tim Corkery, Nathan Doak, Temi Asewunmi Lasisi, Ronan Loughnane, Sam Illo, Alex Soroka, Harry Sheridan, Donnacha Byrne, Oisín McCormack, Alex Kendellen. Replacements: Eoin de Buitléar, Jack Boyle, Mark Donnelly, Mark Morrissey, Reuban Crothers, Conor McKee, Ben Carson, Jude Postlethwaite, Jack Kelleher, Daniel Okeke, Chay Mullins.
ENGLAND: Charlie Atkinson, Tom Litchfield, Jack Bates, Dan Lancaster, Arthur Relton, Fin Smith, Jack van Poortvliet, Phil Brantingham, Sam Riley, Harvey Kindell-Beaton, Arthur Clark, Alex Groves, Ewan Richards, Jack Clement, Nahum Merigan. Replacements: Archie Vanes, Tarek Haffar, Luke Green, Freddie Thomas, Ollie Stonham, Josh Gray, Tom Carr-Smith, Tommy Mathews, Phil Cokanasiga, Tom Roebuck, Orlando Bailey.
We’ve updated the stats for the Ulster players in the web story below to include the England game.
It was a tough game for all the Ireland players including the Ulster players involved.
However, Harry Sheridan continued to build his reputation with another strong 80 minutes picking up 55 meters, the 4th highest, and topping the tackle count with 13 successful tackles made. Ben Moxham did all that was asked in his 80 minutes on the wing. Unfortunately, for Ireland, the backs were largely going backwards.
Doak did make one of Ireland’s few breaks with a quick tap penalty but he struggled to influence the game behind a beaten pack and was subbed for fellow Ulsterman Conor McKee on the 67th minute as Ireland looked to change up the game.
Reuben Crothers got on for 40 minutes and worked hard in a pack under pressure. Jude Postlethwaite got 35 minutes and Ben Carson got 30 in a new look midfield in the second half as injuries took their toll.
While Ireland are still in the hunt for the Championship it may be a case of defending what they have as their next opponents, Italy and France, pulled out big wins in Round 3.
England move to the top of the table after Round 3.