By Bea Asprey, Rugby World Writer
In a nutshell
England ruined Ireland’s St Patrick’s Day party by inflicting a 30-9 thrashing of their guests at a rain-soaked Twickenham. In a scrappy encounter in which there were numerous handling errors, England’s scrum was completely dominant over Ireland’s, and penalties resulting from it, plus a penalty try, won them the game, and saw them finish the championship in second place.
The ugly side of rugby was revealed when Stephen Ferris complained to Nigel Owens that he’d been bitten by an England player in the first half. Owens stated that he’d seen bite marks on Ferris but had not seen what had occurred. He also stated that if he had seen such an offence it would have resulted in a red card. Ireland refused to comment on the incident in the post-match press conference.
England No 8 Ben Morgan was named official Man of the Match for his display, in which he fully demonstrated his power and carrying abilities. Having made his first start against Wales at Twickenham three weeks earlier, his performance has improved with each game. He is sure to have a big future in the white jersey.
Room for Improvement
A wet day it was but there were an astonishing number of handling errors in this match for a game at this level. And Ireland were punished with every scrum that resulted from them, whether it was in the form of a penalty try, Farrell’s boot, or Youngs’s quick tap and go which led to his try. Mike Ross was replaced by Tom Court after just 36 minutes, having suffered a crick in his neck after the first scrum, and coach Declan Kidney admitted that Ireland’s shortage of tighthead props needed addressing.
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree: “It’s been an emotional ride over the last eight weeks but the credit goes to this group of players. I’ve never worked with such an energetic group of lads who want to do well for each other. The World Cup is now a distant memory, and England have been born again as a new team under Stuart (Lancaster.)”
Ireland captain Rory Best: “There’s no hiding from it. It was a disappointing day as a front five. From the first scrum England set their stall out but our error count was unacceptable. It’s three months until we’ll get to wear an Irish jersey, for those who are lucky enough to wear one, and it will hurt for three months.”
England kicked six penalty goals to Ireland’s three, and won 11 scrums to Ireland’s three. In fact, 24 of England’s 30 points were as a result of Ireland’s infringements in the scrum. That’s something they will want to sort out before they head to New Zealand in June.
England: Ben Foden (Mike Brown 71); Chris Ashton, Manu Tuilagi, Brad Barritt, David Strettle; Owen Farrell, Lee Dickson (Ben Youngs 49), Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley (Lee Mears 75), Dan Cole (Matt Stevens 75), Mouritz Botha (Tom Palmer 55), Geoff Parling, Tom Croft, Chris Robshaw (capt), Ben Morgan (Phil Dowson 75).
Not used: Charlie Hodgson.
Tries: Pen, Youngs. Con: Farrell. Pens: Farrell, 6.
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D’Arcy (Ronan O’Gara 47), Andrew Trimble (Fergus McFadden 74); Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan (Tomás O’Leary 49); Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt, Sean Cronin 78), Mike Ross (Tom Court, 36), Donncha O’Callaghan (Mike McCarthy 67), Donnacha Ryan, Stephen Ferris, Sean O’Brien (Peter O’Mahony 70), Jamie Heaslip.
Pens: Sexton, 3.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Click here to watch highlights from the match.