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Saturday, March 6, 1999 Published at 19:13 GMT

England see off Irish challenge

England's try-scorer Matt Perry is tackled

Ireland 15-27 England

England's forwards got the better of a battling Irish side at Landsdowne Road with tries from full-back Matt Perry and Tim Rodber.

Ian Robertson reports for Radio 5 Live
England kicked off against Ireland in Dublin knowing they were the only team that could win the Grand Slam.

Lawrence Dallaglio's side learned that France had lost in Paris and had the chance to be champions of Europe for the fourth time in the 1990s.

[ image: Darren Garforth's performance was typical of the England pack]
Darren Garforth's performance was typical of the England pack
England had not lost a Triple Crown encounter since 1994, but Ireland came steaming into the match on a glorious Dublin day with a narrow defeat to France and a win at Wembley over Wales in their record book.

Laurence Dallaglio: "The lads didn't panic" (BBC Radio 5 Live)
England were playing their second Five Nations match, having beaten Scotland last month.

England will not be happy with their overall performance. Too many passes failed to go to hand and despite getting most of the possession try-scoring chances were not converted.

After early English pressure it was Ireland that got the first points on the board. After an offence at a scrummage David Humphreys slotted over to put the hosts into a three-point lead.

England were making more try-scoring opportunities but the final pass always appeared to elude the runners.

Jonny Wilkinson made the scores level after 19 minutes with a well-struck penalty but England were still looking for tries.

England kept up the pressure with no reward and Humpreys got the chance to put Ireland back ahead and he made no mistake.

Finally the English pressure told. After punching holes in the midfield defence with their Martin Johnson and Dallaglio the ball was spread wide to full-back Perry who wriggled his way across the line.

Paul Grayson then scored a fine drop goal with his left-foot to stretch England's lead. But Humphreys responded almost immediately to cut the lead to only two points.

After the break England were left ruing missed opportunities when Humphreys kicked another penalty to put the hosts into the lead. That only lasted for a few minutes until Wilkinson struck back with a 52nd minute penalty goal.

[ image: Kyran Bracken avoids the tacke of Rob Henderson]
Kyran Bracken avoids the tacke of Rob Henderson
England peppered the Irish line with runs from Kyran Bracken and Jeremy Guscott but they could not make the breakthrough due to fine defence. Another two penalties from Wilkinson gave England an eight-point lead but the visitors really showed little continuity.

Ireland saw the game slipping away from them and with ten minutes to go they pushed at the England line with drive from Paddy Johns but had to settle for a Humphreys' penalty instead.

In the last eight minutes Ireland threw everything they could at England to the roars of the Landsdowne Road crowd but tackling from Wilkinson and Neil Back kept the Irish out.

Dan Luger had a chance to seal the victory in the dying moments but he could not hold a pass from Guscott. But Rodber finally took his chance and drove over after some sustain forward pressure.

England will be glad of the victory against a much-vaunted Irish pack but with Wales and France playing entertaining running rugby the championship is by no means over.


Ireland: O'Shea, Bishop, Maggs, Henderson, Dempsey, Humphreys, McGuinness, Clohessy, Wood, Wallace, Johns, Davidson, O'Cuinneagain, Ward, Costello.

Replacements: Keane, Elwood, Scally, Miller, Galwey, Fitzpatrick, Nesdale.

England: Perry, Rees, Wilkinson, Guscott, Luger, Grayson, Bracken, Leonard, Cockerill, Garforth, Johnson, Rodber, Hill, Back, Dallaglio.

Replacements: Beal, Catt, Dawson, Corry, Grewcock, Ubogu, McCarthy.

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