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Saturday, 20 October, 2001, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
English implosion delights Dublin
BBC Sport Online's Jim Stokes in Dublin
Well, well, what do you know ... England have done it again - imploded, to great acclaim I have to say.
That, of course, was in no small way down to Ireland who came out with a thoroughly deserved 20-14 victory at Lansdowne Road.
Keith Wood and his clansmen became the third Celtic nation in succession to wilt the rose.
Following the Grand Slam disappointments against Wales and Scotland, England's monster machine melted melancholy-like into the turf of Lansdowne Road.
Aggression, more aggression added with even more aggression was the downfall of the England team, who just could not get their well-oiled system up and running.
The final whistle meant only one thing - party time in Dublin - and what a party is was.
We had the strange sight at the end of England lining up to receive their Six Nations Championship medals while Ireland were doing a lap of honour in front of their delighted fans.
That very tired lap of honour was unusual in itself.
|It is usually left to touring teams following their farewell game.
Little children sneaked on to the well-protected Lansdowne turf to pick up a divot and stick it in their pocket to keep for posterity.
Dreams are made of this in Ireland, and the result was etched into the annals of folklore before the bloodied men in green had exhaustedly hobbled back to the changing room.
There can be no doubt Ireland deserved their victory.
England had not played since April and it showed.
Ireland had two run outs - one bad, one good, and it showed as well.
On Saturday, though it was the big one, and the men in green knew it, and responded with the type of fire and brimstone that history bestows.
England's stars were shrouded in a mist.
The runs, the angles, the support play and everything else that has put England up in the top three in world terms, were just not there.
They were ring-rusty, and how it showed.
Ireland cut down the space, tackled anything that moved, and in reality just made a mess of everything England tried to do.
England's line-outs were a complete shambles and tiny errors enabled Ireland to take control.
You sensed it was going to be a big day for the Irish.
The dead pan throaty tones of announcer Mick O'Dea began the official proceedings.
Ensconced in his box at the railway end, Mick, complete with Keith Wood haircut, has been doing his duty for two decades or more.
Once his ''There are no late changes to either team'' boomed over the ground, the gladiators came out to play.
For the first 40 minutes, Ireland knocked England completely out of their rhythm, and it continued in the same vein throughout.
The tackles were huge, and by half-time, at least half a dozen players were limping back to the changing room for a well-earned breather.
By that time Ireland were 11-6 to the good.
The trouble was it should have been more such was Ireland's dominance and the disorganisation of the England line-out.
Keith Wood's 12th try for his country had the old stadium creaking.
The try was a perfectly executed training ground line-out.
England lined up to stop the drive from five metres out, but being a cute old fox he is, Wood did the unexpected.
Wood threw in the ball into the line-out , Mick Galwey took the catch to feed Anthony Foley and a flip pass to the flying bald pate saw Wood charging around the tail to score.
Just before the break we had male streaker making a stupid incursion onto the field.
At least one suspected it was a male. Quite honestly I did not think it was that cold.
Ireland continued where they left off in the first with Humphreys knocking over his third penalty.
Wilkinson, however, was keeping England in touch with his third penalty in the 53rd minute.
Dan Luger was always going to be a threat, and he broke clear with the line in sight but was grounded by a Peter Stringer ankle tap.
I suspect that was a defining moment in the game.
If england had scored then, well, Ireland might have collapsed. Just for that, Clive Woodward replaced Luger 10 minutes later with Austin Healy, who received a rough welcome as would be expected of a little devil.
Ronan O'Gara then had quite an introduction to the game in the 58th minute.
Humphreys limped off as Ireland were award a penalty and O'Gara sent a low-flying projectile just over the crossbar.
Ireland were still in control midway through the second half, but you sensed England were beginning to overpower their adversaries.
England would have been glad to see veteran duo Galwey and Peter Clohessy troop off to a rapturous reception.
It was the Munster duo's aggression in the tight exchanges which must have put the fear of God into those men in white.
O'Gara rifled over another penalty to put two socres between the sides.
In the exhaustive, frenetic last few minutes, Healy grabbed a try, but it was no more than a consolation.
Ireland were out on their feet, but they defended heroically right to the end, and shattered another English dream. At the aftermatch dinner Wood making his time-honoured speech as captain, said: ''In rugby there are good days and then some good days.
''But this, is just magnificent.''
Everyone in Ireland would agree with those sentiments.
From Dingle to Derry, celebrations lasted well into the early hours of Sunday morning - and why not.
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