A TRIPLE CROWN awaits Joe Schmidt’s Ireland if they can beat England for the first time in three years. Twickenham plays host to the match of the Six Nations weekend and the Irishmen can put themselves firmly in the championship driving seat by defeating Stuart Lancaster’s men.
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England 13 Ireland 10
15.13 – Good afternoon. Sean Farrell here to kick off our big Six Nations liveblog while roving reporter Pat McCarry snakes his way through some untimely London traffic.
We hope you’re enjoying the tail end of the Wooden Spoon match in Rome as much as we are. We’ll have all the tries from that one for you just after the game is settled.
As we type, Italy lead 20 -18 with two minutes to play.
15.25 – It’s over in Rome, a thrilling end to proceedings as Duncan Weir’s drop-goal gives Scotland the win.
Now, that’s out of the way. So it’s time to hear your predictions for the big game of the day.
Can England upset Joe Schmidt’s table-toppers? Or will there be silverware in the IRFU cabinet by Monday morning?
15.48 – If you’re after the highlights of Scotland’s win in Italy you can get them here, but right now we’re devoting our full and undivided attention to matters in London.
Ladies and gentlemen, the teams:
England: M Brown; J Nowell, L Burrell, B Twelvetrees, J May; O Farrell, D Care; J Marler, D Hartley, D Wilson; J Launchbury, C Lawes; T Wood, C Robshaw (Capt.), B Vunipola.
Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Henry Thomas, Dave Attwood, Ben Morgan, Lee Dickson, George Ford, Alex Goode.
Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D Toner, P O’Connell (capt.); P O’Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip.
Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, M Moore, I Henderson, J Murphy, I Boss, P Jackson, F McFadden.
15.53 – If you’re not near a TV, then we commiserate. Here’s what Georgie Boy is doing for your viewing pleasure.
He also has about 15 Bounty bars stuffed under the desk.
15.59 – The anthems are done and dusted, here’s a quick look back on how our boys looked on their way into hostile territory.
Source: ©INPHO/James Crombie
16.01 – KICK-OFF: Owen Farrell gets us under way and Devin Toner takes the ball in to give Ireland their first maul of the day.
16.02 – First blood, England? Well, they choked up Ireland’s maul, but the big marker comes with the scrum and Cian Healy powers the green machine to the opening penalty.
Sexton’s kick takes us into opposition territory.
16.04 – BOD breaks, Luther Burrell was certainly paying the great man some respect there, but Ireland’s move peters out and England clear their lines.
16.05 – Mike Brown comes in to play scrum half and dummies a pass before side stepping through a static Irish defence.
England have a solid base in the green 22 here.
16.08 – Ireland all the way onto the book foot, but the tackles keep coming in. Four men go in to stop Billy Vunipola, but on the next phase Farrell keeps the ball alive and Twelvetrees spun the pass wide to Jonny May.
It looked, for all the world a try, but the winger dropped the ball (think Wes Fofana v Leinster) with the score begging.
16.10 – Well, that’s just a massive relief. A really robust start from England and Ireland were clinging on. Mercifully, Les Kiss’ defence still have no tries against their name in 2014.
16.14 – 10 mins: Ireland embark on their first attack and generate some good quick ball.
Going right, inside the 22, R Kearney chips through but there’s too much behind the grubber for Trimble to get near with his chase.
16.17 – Wow! Sexton dinks a cross-field kick towards Trimble and the Ulster wing plucks it from the sky almost without breaking stride.
The white defence managed to drift and cover, but they’re on the back foot..
16.20 – Thrilling stuff from Ireland. But England keep them at bay and force them right to left and left to right.
A trademark Sexton loop created space again for Andrew Trimble, but Ireland are not able to tie enough defenders down and the Ulster wing again found tacklers as he stepped inside and a phase later Owen Farrell forced a turnover.
16.25 – It’s kind of amazing that it’s scoreless after a full quarter.
This game is intense, Ireland slightly shading the penalty count, but both sides proving disciplined within kicking range.
Farrell comes up with the latest sanction against England. A late shoulder-charge on Conor Murray as he box kicks clear.
He tells Joubert: ‘I tried to use my arms’ and the referee hit him with, “well, you didn’t succeed.”
16.28 – PENALTY: England 3 Ireland 0 (Farrell ’24)
A monster penalty from the young Saracen out-half. Raises the flags from a full 50 metres out.
16.34 – Ha, O’Driscoll threatens a late hit on Mike Brown after the referee’s whistle, but pulls out long before contact. Brown squares up to the centre, BOD laughs. Good times.
16.38 – Ireland really showing an appetite to run the ball today, but England’s tackles keep on mounting and there is a sense of frustration beginning to creep in.
After D’Arcy is guilty of a short forward pass 40 metres from his line, Ireland’s scrum concede a penalty, and Farrell has a chance to double his tally… off the post.
16.42 – 37 mins: Ireland’s defence are doing some frustrating of their own. And end England’s attack with a good old-fashioned choke tackle.
A bigger blow to England, though, is the sight of 125 kg Billy Vunipola hobbling off injured. The number eight was tackled by Devin Toner and got his ankle caught underneath him as he tried to break free.
16.45 – Ah, no. Trimble jumps the gun and goes offside at a ruck on halfway. Farrell doesn’t fancy the distance, instead they go for the corner to make a statement of intent.
16.47 – HALF -TIME: England 3 Ireland 0
The Line-out fails and Ireland are able to clear their lines. England have been mighty impressive in that 40, you have to be pleased to only be three points down – even if we have yet to register a score or earn a kick at goal.
16.53 – Houston Texans star JJ Watt probably isn’t enjoying either game too much at the minute. USA are 2 – 0 down to Finland.
Source: JJ Watt
16.59 – Right, the flames are rising around the tunnel and the players are back on the field. Here comes a massive 40 minutes in this year’s Six Nations.
17.02 – England ship a penalty soon after the restart, Ireland opt against the kick at goal and go instead for the line-out.
A solid platform and the gap is created for ROB KEARNEY to steam through the gap and under the posts from a Jamie Heaslip pop pass.
TRY: England 3 Ireland 7 (Kearney’ 42)
17.04 – Oh dear, Billy Twelvetrees is allowed to come down with the restart and Ireland are on the back foot straight away after scoring.
The defence scrambles quickly enough to break the move down though and Ireland force a breakdown penalty. From there, the maul gets to stretch its legs for the first time today and it yields another penalty to take Ireland into England’s half.
17.09 – Now we’re cooking. The maul gets it’s rumble on again and after Courtney Lawes does his best to break it up, he fails to roll away from the tackle that follows and Jonathan Sexton has his first kickable penalty opportunity.
PENALTY: England 3 Ireland 10 (Sexton ’49)
17.11 – 50 mins: Rory Best is the man who just never stops. The Ulster hooker forces a turnover to silence the Twickenham crowd just as the sensed a smidgen of momentum with their pack setting up inside the 22.
Ireland clear their lines.
17.15 – Back come England. And the momentum this time is picking up fast, Danny Care quick-tapped the penalty and Burrell goes crashing into D’Arcy.
There are men out wide, but Care attempts to snipe under the posts and England have to settle for a penalty.
PENALTY: England 6 Ireland 10 (Farrell’ 54)
17.16 – TRY! England 13 Ireland 10 (Care ’56)
Oh, no. The restart off the last Farrell penalty was kicked out on the full by Sexton and England bounded off the platform. Brown storming though a gap, with Kearney lunging to tackle, he offloads to Care who is able to steam in under the posts from 30 metres.
17.21 – What now, Ireland? Well, another powerful maul provides the front foot and Murray’s box-kick is spilled. However, as Rob Kearney attempts to run, he dances into the arms of Joe Launchbury, and in the form the wasps lock is in today, you don’t want to be anywhere near him.
17.22 – Mike Ross is replaced. Martin Moore is in the game – these 18 minutes will provide the biggest test of the Leinster man’s career.
17.27 – Turning point?
Jack Nowell blasts a kick back in the general direction of Ireland’s half, but it flies out on the full and Rory Best hits POM with a line-out just outside the England 22.
17.29 – Ireland press, Ireland probe, but openings are few. O’Driscoll spins into a gap, bounces off Care, but gets wrapped up and his next possession is a trademark loop with Sexton that is knocked on by the out-half.
17.31 – This game just won’t be settled easily. Ireland’s scrum sends the white pack back-peddling. Green ball on the right corner of the 22.
17.34 – The scrum is solid and D’Arcy makes a good carry before Rory Best sets up a maul in open play. O’Connell gets stuck at the back, though, and the numbers just aren’t there to put the power in. It collapses and the scrum is awarded to the home side.
Cian Healy trudges off. Jack McGrath makes it an all new front row alongside Cronin and Moore.
17.38 – Jordi Murphy makes his Ireland debut as a 72nd minute replacement. Iain Henderson is also on the field which means Heaslip is the only starting back-row remaining.
17.41 – 75 mins: We have the ball, but we’re pinned back into our own half and the invention just doesn’t look to be there to make a break needed to go 40 metres upfield.
17.43 – The break does come! O’Driscoll delivers a beautiful ball to Dave Kearney on the left wing and he powers into the danger zone.
He’s stopped, but recycles well and Ireland fan out again with Heaslip taking the ball into contact ont he right wing.
It’s horribly frustrating stuff, England turn over and boot clear.
O’Driscoll is injured and Ireland are back where they started, in the 22.
17.45 – D’Arcy runs into contact. England choke, the bodies swarm in and the dance moves on for seconds that feels like hours before the mound of men eventually comes crashing down. Unplayable. Game Over.
FULL TIME: England 13 Ireland 10
17.49 – That’s it from me, folks. Crushing disappointment for Ireland. No Triple Crown, no Grand Slam…
But, hey, there’s still a Championship to play for when we meet Italy and France before St Patrick’s Day.
Thanks for joining in our wee liveblog. We’ll have all the reaction from Twickenham for you a little later this evening.