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Ireland 14-13 England

Ireland: (3) 14
Tries: O'Driscoll Pens: O'Gara (2) Drop: O'Driscoll

England: (3) 13
Try: Armitage Con: Goode Pens: Flood, Armitage

By Lyle Jackson


Highlights - Ireland 14-13 England

Ireland maintained their Grand Slam challenge by scraping a hard-earned victory over England at Croke Park.

Ireland skipper and man-of-the-match Brian O'Driscoll powered over for their only try in the 57th minute.

But with Ronan O'Gara landing only two of his six kicks, Ireland were helped by the sin-binning of England prop Phil Vickery and scrum-half Danny Care.

England were left to rue that indiscipline after Delon Armitage's late try and Andy Goode's conversion.

So a relieved Ireland remain the only unbeaten side in the championship, with Declan Kidney's men on top with six points, followed by Wales and France on four each.

Johnson erupts at Care sin-binning

The exciting finish was in stark contrast to an untidy opening, dogged by spells of scrappy, unattractive play with possession continually being kicked away.

Ireland had the better of the possession but fly-half O'Gara was uncharacteristically wayward with two penalties before landing a third in the 29th minute after England strayed offside.

England applied a bit of pressure just before half-time and got level with a simple Toby Flood penalty from close in front of the posts after securing line-out turnover.

The second half was a more enterprising affair, although it started with another penalty failure by O'Gara as his effort struck a post.

It was left to O'Driscoll to lift the Dublin crowd with a fine drop-goal soon afterwards.

Ben Dirs blog
But there was momentary concern for the Irish skipper after a nasty-looking clash of heads with Riki Flutey.

After treatment, O'Driscoll was able to continue, but the Leinster centre was soon flattened again by a late body check by Delon Armitage who escaped a yellow card.

Ireland began to mount some sustained pressure on the English line and signalled their ambition by declining penalty goal opportunities in favour of lineout ball.

Under pressure, England were warned about infringements and former captain Vickery was sin-binned in the 55th minute for not allowing Ireland to release the ball quickly.

The home side remained camped yards from the try-line and O'Driscoll powered over in the 57th minute - the skipper's 35th try in 91 Tests for Ireland, only for O'Gara to miss the conversion.

England tried to hit back quickly and a try looked on when replacement Mathew Tait made a darting break, but he failed to get the pass to the well-positioned Mark Cueto.

Mark Cueto of England is tackled by Ireland's Tommy Bowe
Mark Cueto of England is tackled by Ireland's Tommy Bowe at Croke Park

However, England reduced the deficit to just five points when Armitage assumed the kicking duties from a groggy Flood to land a well-struck penalty.

But as against Italy and Wales in their previous two games, indiscipline once again cost England.

Replacement Care was given a yellow card after shoulder-charging Marcus Horan, with O'Gara rediscovering his kicking form to slide the penalty between the posts.

But there was further drama in store as replacement Goode kicked the ball through for Armitage's try.

It gave England a chance of stealing an unlikely victory but they ran out of time to mount another meaningful attack.

Ireland: Kearney, Bowe, B O'Driscoll, P. Wallace, Fitzgerald, O'Gara, O'Leary, Horan, Flannery, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Ferris, D Wallace, Heaslip.

Replacements: Stringer for O'Leary (65), Best for Flannery (68), Leamy for Heaslip (68). Not Used: Court, M O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Murphy.

England: D Armitage, Sackey, Tindall, Flutey, Cueto, Flood, Ellis, Sheridan, Mears, Vickery, Borthwick, Kennedy, Haskell, Worsley, Easter.

Replacements: Tait for Sackey (57), Goode for Flood (66), Care for Ellis (58), White for Sheridan (77), Hartley for Mears (66), Croft for Kennedy (69), Narraway for Easter (76).

Sin Bin: Vickery (55), Care (69).

Att: 82,000

Ref: Craig Joubert (South Africa).

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see also
Johnson erupts at Care sin-binning
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Indiscipline angers boss Johnson
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Indiscipline cost us - Borthwick
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England deserve credit - O'Driscoll
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Kidney praises pack following win
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v England photos
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v England match stats
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations as it happened
28 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Italy 9-38 Ireland
15 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales 23-15 England
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 30-21 France
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England 36-11 Italy
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union

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