England 16-20 Ireland, Twickenham, February 27
Bowe brace inspires Irish victory
February 27, 2010
Tommy Bowe scored an early try for Ireland
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Ireland got their Six Nations campaign back-on-track with a 20-16 victory over England at Twickenham, ending the home side's hopes of a Grand Slam for another season.
Ospreys wing Tommy Bowe scored a brace of excellent tries for the visitors and was joined on the scoresheet by Munster's Keith Earls. England scrapped in terrible conditions but lacked Ireland's cutting edge, scoring a try through prop Dan Cole and stealing a second-half lead thanks to the boot of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson, who finished with 11 points.
Ireland were under pressure to produce after a humbling defeat to France in Paris two weeks ago, while England had also been forced to ask some tough questions following a laboured an unimaginative victory over Italy. Few questions will have been answered by their one-dimensional attacking play on this occasion, but there was plenty of determination on show as they twice bit back following Irish scores.
A mistake from Wilkinson at the kick-off led to Irish pressure but the early cut and thrust came from the English back-three. Ugo Monye and Mark Cueto looked to run from deep but Irish aggression brought the first score of the game after only four minutes.
A powerful turnover in centre field was ruthlessly exploited as Jamie Heaslip charged forward to straighten the line. Recalled fly-half Jonathan Sexton continued the movement and slid an inch-perfect grubber in behind Lewis Moody, who was powerless to stop Bowe racing through and scoring in the corner.
England then probed around the fringes and created further space for Monye, who was well marshalled by the defence. Wilkinson missed his opening shot at goal and was guilty of squandering another attacking opportunity by chipping the ball away as England pressed on the Irish line.
Wilkinson atoned for his earlier errors by slotting his next kick and Ireland missed out on another scoring chance when Bowe challenged Monye early for a towering Sexton kick. England dominated possession as the rain cascaded down, but slow delivery from Danny Care left them stifled.
Sexton saw a long-range penalty fall under the crossbar and hacked the ball out on the full in a promising position as conditions worsened. He extended the Irish lead soon after when Dylan Hartley was penalised for playing the ball off his feet. O'Leary immediately handed possession to England though by hacking the ball out on the full, making it an unhappy hat-trick of errors, but was rescued by a poor England lineout. Earls stretched the English defence to breaking point soon after, skipping through a Steve Borthwick tackle and chipping ahead. An excellent Wilkinson tackle stopped the Munster utility and Care safely beat Heaslip to the ball in-goal.
Wilkinson banged over a penalty to make it a two point game and Monye was able to collect a difficult kick over the top to close out the opening period.
Easter was offside from the second-half kick-off but Sexton was unable to covert a difficult kick from out wide, Wilkinson also failing when presented with an opportunity after Ireland returned the offside favour.
Heaslip challenged Monye in the air and allowed Wilkinson to clear deep into Irish territory, but a strong Irish counter-maul forced the fly-half into a poorly executed cross kick, which was easily mopped up by Murphy.
Ireland profited from a questionable refereeing decision to score their second try. O'Leary was guilty of preventing a quick tap for the second time and Care duly reacted, prompting a flurry of pushes. The penalty was reversed, allowing Sexton to clear long. From the lineout Sexton exploited some lazy English defence and put Earls over in the corner. The fly-half again missed the touchline conversion.
England turned to the grubber kick for their next attacking opportunity and it paid off, with Earls forced to carry the ball back across his try-line. England packed down for the five-metre scrum and put Ireland under plenty of pressure, drawing a penalty before spinning the ball into midfield. Mathew Tait was driven close to the line before the forwards piled in close to the posts. The TMO was called for and he took his time to award a first Test try to Cole, who had scrapped through a last-ditch tackle from Donncha O'Callaghan.
Wilkinson lined up the easiest of conversions to draw the scores level and Ireland received a further blow when Brian O'Driscoll was forced from the field after catching a knee to the head from Paul O'Connell. The visitors almost spiralled further adrift, but Wilkinson's radar again failed him after Ireland were needlessly offside.
The fly-half was on hand to stroke over a drop-goal for the lead moments later, rounding off an excellent break from Care. Ireland showed their class from limited opportunities to steal the lead back soon after. O'Leary claimed off the top lineout ball and as he toyed with the English defence, Bowe appeared on his inside shoulder to collect a pop pass and fly through to score untouched past a flailing Wilkinson.
Replacement Ronan O'Gara added the extras but Ireland conceded massive ground to Wilkinson's boot after failing to roll away. A series of English mauls followed but Ireland's defence was resolute, with Heaslip and Cian Healy fighting for all they are worth to ensure a turnover. Ireland secured the ball but were guilty of a poor clearance which allowed England to come back again, but their limited attack was again evident as they kept it tight. Ireland soaked up the pressure and produced another turnover, allowing Heaslip to put the ball out for a welcome victory.