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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 16:43 GMT
England off to record start
SIX NATIONS 2000 FLASHBACK
England 50-18 Ireland
England answered their critics in emphatic fashion to get their Six Nations campaign off to a record-breaking start at Twickenham.
The England pack has always been rated as one of the best in the world - but this time it was the turn of a new-look back line to turn on the style in a six-try win.
New-boys Ben Cohen, twice, and Mike Tindall celebrated their debuts with eye-catching tries and Jonny Wilkinson landed 20 points with the boot as they posted their largest ever score against the Irish.
They were bereft of ideas going forward and woeful in defence, as England's fleet-footed attackers time and again exploited missed tackles to claim a host of tries.
Kevin Maggs and Mick Galwey claimed second half tries for Ireland - but Brian O'Driscoll was one of the few stars on show in a green shirt.
Ireland may have dominated the early stages of the second half, after being over-run before the break, but England were always in command and never looked in trouble.
England had been accused of being stagnant after the World Cup - but they showed they have the potential to win the first ever Six Nations crown.
The enigmatic Mike Catt showed inside centre could be his best position, frequently launching English assaults, and Austin Healey was a livewire presence throughout - claiming two tries in a virtuoso display.
The versatile Healey was all over the pitch, switching at will from his starting position of wing to scrum-half or fly-half, to give the home side an extra attacking dimension.
But there were stars all over the field for England, with Lawrence Dallaglio, captain Matt Dawson and try-scorer Neil Back all at the top of their games.
Cohen starts rout
Cohen shrugged off his nervous start to open his international account after 18 minutes. There was still much to do when the big Northampton wing collected the ball on the right after a flowing backs move - but he cut inside and sprinted through the Irish ranks.
It took Ireland 33 minutes to force themselves onto the scoreboard, David Humphreys slotting a penalty on one of their rare forays into England territory.
It mattered little for the English, though, as Healey claimed a second try - this time after Catt's burst had set up the score - to make it 25-3 at half-time.
Back cashes in
The break did little to revive flagging Ireland, the English starting the second half in equally dominant mode, with Back crashing over following a trademark Dawson break-away.
Ireland were in disarray and their only chance to pressurise England was with pieces of individual brilliance.
Humphreys converted and added another penalty as Ireland enjoyed an unprecedented period of ascendancy, Dwyer touching over with help from his fellow forwards.
Tindall claimed a debut try in the closing stages - with an outrageous dive in the corner after more good work from Catt.
And Cohen rounded off victory with a try under the posts to make it a record-breaking day.
The real test for England, though, comes against France in Paris in a fortnight.
England: M Perry (Bath); A Healey (Leicester), M Tindall (Bath), M Catt (Bath), B Cohen (Northampton); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), M Dawson (Northampton, capt); J Leonard (Harlequins), P Greening (Sale), P Vickery (Gloucester), G Archer (Bristol), S Shaw (Wasps), R Hill (Saracens), N Back (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps).
Replacements: I Balshaw (Bath), A King (Wasps), A Gomarsall (Bedford), M Corry (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), T Woodman (Gloucester), N McCarthy (Gloucester).
Ireland: C O'Shea (London Irish); J Bishop (London Irish), B O'Driscoll (Blackrock College), M Mullins (Young Munster), K Maggs (Bath); D Humphreys (Dungannon), T Tierney (Garryowen); P Clohessy (Young Munster), K Wood (Garryowen, capt), P Wallace (Saracens), R Casey (Blackrock College), M O'Kelly (St Mary's College), D O'Cuinneagain (Ballymena), K Dawson (London Irish), A Foley (Shannon).
Replacements: G Dempsey (Terenure College), E Elwood (Galwegians), P Stringer (Shannon), T Brennan (St Mary's College), M Galwey (Shannon), J Fitzpatrick (Dungannon), F Sheahan (Cork Constitution).
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand).
Touch judges: Derek Bevan (Wales) and Rob Dickson (Scotland).
Other top 2000 Review stories:
Links to top 2000 Review stories are at the foot of the page.
Links to other 2000 Review stories
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