AN AFTERNOON THAT began with positive news, in the form of Brian O’Driscoll becoming a first-time father, ended with Ireland getting spanked by England at the Aviva Stadium.
The visitors were the superior outfit and deserved winners and were only denied a larger margin of victory by an Irish comeback inspired by pride and half-time tweaks to the scrum.
Speaking to RTÉ after the match, Irish captain Jamie Heaslip credited England for playing a wiser game in rain-soaked conditions. He also lamented his side’s failure to take advantage of James Haskell’s 55th minute trip to the sin bin.
He said, “It’s a tough one to take… With [their man] in the bin, I really thought we would create some momentum.
“It didn’t go our way and we all know what happened then.”
What happened was Owen Farrell slotted over two penalties to leave the scores at 12-6 when the English flanker returned.
‘Bruised and battered’
Heaslip commented, “A lot of lads in that changing room are bruised and battered.” He added:
We’re suffering a little bit in there… it’s a hard pill to swallow”
The most obvious injuries were to Simon Zebo, who has a confirmed break to a metatarsal bone in his foot, and Jonathan Sexton [hamstring].
Sean O’Brien also hobbled from the field of battle moments after receiving on-field treatment and Kidney revealed, post-match, that Rob Kearney had suffered a dead leg.
Donnacha Ryan will be sent for an x-ray on an injured back while Brian O’Driscoll twisted his ankle.
English captain Chris Robshaw was named man-of-the-match. (©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)
Ireland coach Declan Kidney paid credit to the Irish scrum, which he felt was ‘on top for most of the game’, and also cursed the 6-3 scoreboard reversal when England were down to 14 men.
Speaking about the injuries to Claire McNamara, he commented, “That can be disruptive to the players but we’ve always talked about being a 23-man squad.”
Not over yet
The Irish coach also refused to concede that England had the Six Nations wrapped up.
He said, “This championship is a long way from being over yet. France are in London next time up and England still have to go to Wales.”
Triumphant England coach Stuart Lancaster said, “I think we had a good first half, but at the start of the second we had a couple of turnovers that put us under pressure.
We grew in stature towards the end of the game and deserved our win. We hadn’t won here for a long time and we gone and did it. We will take it.”
He added that the English squad would ‘have a few beers tonight and enjoy our time in Dublin tonight’.
Not many Irish supporters would begrudge them of it.