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Saturday, 16 February, 2002, 16:18 GMT
Awesome England brush Ireland aside
Wilkinson runs past the Irish defence for the game's opening try
Wilkinson was central to every England move
England 45-11 Ireland

England climbed to number one in the world rankings after crushing Ireland 45-11 at Twickenham.

The English were totally ruthless as they gained revenge for their 20-14 defeat in Dublin last October, a result which cost them the Grand Slam.

And the hosts had Jonny Wilkinson to thank, after the 22-year-old produced perhaps his most complete performance at international level.

The number 10 scored the first try of the afternoon, made the space for almost every resulting score and kicked intelligently both from the spot and in open play.

Ireland, on the other hand, had no answer and were painfully lacking the defensive game that had hampered the English at Lansdowne Road in last year's Six Nations.

Foley is knocked down by Cohen
Ireland could find no way through the English

They recovered marginally in the second half as England both tired and lacked the fluency of their opening 40 minutes.

But the simple fact was that after David Humphreys and Wilkinson swapped early penalties in the opening half, the match always belonged to the English.

Appropriately it was the Newcastle fly-half who scored the game's opening try in the 22nd minute.

It proved to be a formality as good hands by Ben Kay and then Steve Thompson allowed a sniping Wilkinson acres of space to score.

Cohen strikes

Two minutes later came the try of the afternoon as England's backs and forwards passed the ball comfortably among themselves.

A delayed Kyran Bracken ball paved the way for Mike Tindall, who was denied a try by Denis Hickie.

Greenwood heads off on another sniping run
Greenwood scored twice in the match

He laid off a smart ball in the tackle to Richard Hill, who in turn sent a reverse pass to Joe Worsley before Cohen ran in to take the final pass and score.

Cohen made sure of England's third seven minutes before the break as he unselfishly passed to Will Greenwood who was untroubled to the line.

And Worsley rounded off the half with the final score, just getting the ball down before being dragged into touch by Kevin Maggs.

The scoreline could have been more devastating than 31-6 at the interval had Ben Kay, Cohen and Austin Healey not been halted from their respective attempts to score by some strong tackling.

Irish fightback

Kay made amends, though, just minutes after the break as he knocked Humphreys and Peter Stringer out of the way en route to the line.

As England's dominance over the game began to take its toll, Greenwood added his name to the score sheet for a second time.

Wilkinson sidestepped, Healey took his pass and then took his time before passing to Greenwood to score.

Ronan O'Gara provided some consolation with a try of his own 20 minutes from time as his side eked their way back into the game.

But, by then, the deficit was already at 34 points and the resurgent Irish could do nothing else.



Backs: Jason Robinson (Sale); Austin Healey (Leicester), Will Greenwood (Harlequins), Mike Tindall (Bath), Ben Cohen (Northampton); Jonny Wilkinson (Newcastle), Kyran Bracken (Saracens)
Forwards: Joe Worsley (Wasps), Neil Back (Leicester), Richard Hill (Saracens); Ben Kay (Leicester), Martin Johnson (Leicester, capt); Phil Vickery (Gloucester), Steve Thompson (Northampton), Graham Rowntree (Leicester)


Backs: Girvan Dempsey (Leinster); Geordan Murphy (Leicester/Eng), Brian O'Driscoll (Leinster), Kevin Maggs (Bath), Denis Hickie (Leinster); David Humphreys (Ulster), Peter Stringer (Munster)
Forwards: Anthony Foley (Munster), David Wallace (Munster), Eric Miller (Leinster); Malcolm O'Kelly (Leinster), Mick Galwey (Munster, capt); John Hayes (Munster), Frank Sheahan (Munster), Peter Clohessy (Munster)

BBC Sport's Ian Robertson
"It doesn't get any better if you're an England supporter"
England coach Clive Woodward
"Some of the best rugby since I've been in charge"
England's Jonny Wilkinson
"We had to be good today"
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan
"The game was over at half-time"


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