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England 16-20 Ireland

England (6) 16
Tries: Cole Cons: Wilkinson Pens: Wilkinson 2 Drop-goals: Wilkinson
Ireland (8) 20
Tries: Bowe 2, Earls Cons: O'Gara Pens: Sexton

Keith Earls

Highlights - England 16-20 Ireland

By James Standley

A fine brace of tries from Ireland wing Tommy Bowe ended England's Grand Slam hopes at Twickenham.

Ireland took the lead through Bowe's early try and a penalty from Johnny Sexton, to two from Jonny Wilkinson, gave the Irish an 8-6 half-time lead.

A Keith Earls try saw Ireland lead by seven points before Wilkinson converted Dan Cole's try to make it 13-13.

Wilkinson then put England ahead with a drop-goal but Bowe's late try and Ronan O'Gara's conversion saw Ireland home.

It was a thrilling end to a match which had struggled for much of the 80 minutes to catch light at a soggy Twickenham.

'Tough loss' hard to take for Johnson

England dominated possession in the second half and Ireland were forced to defend for long periods but it was the visitors who had the greater cutting edge and their ability to take their chances was ultimately the difference between the two sides.

Bowe was one of the stars of the Lions tour and his finishing ensured Ireland made it six wins in seven matches against England.

Going into the game both sides had experienced a difficult couple of weeks since their previous outings, despite their differing results.


England had been roundly criticised for their turgid performance in beating Italy while Ireland had been forced to regroup after a 12-game unbeaten run came to an end as they were taken apart by France.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney had responded by dropping fly-half O'Gara in favour of 24-year-old Sexton in one of four changes, but England boss Martin Johnson had kept faith with the XV that started in Rome.

Johnson had beseeched his side to up their game but the hosts made a poor start as Wilkinson fluffed his opening kick-off and only 15 seconds later had the ball plucked from his grasp by the soaring Bowe from a hanging kick.

Proud Kidney salute Ireland's team effot

It was an inauspicious start for the fly-half, the all-time leading points scorer in Test history, whose recent performances have been put under the microscope as England struggle to make an impression at the top of the world game.

However, the Toulon man is nothing if not a fighter and he soon got England on the front foot with a snappy half-break, only for his luck to turn as he found himself inadvertently involved as Ireland took the lead with a fine counter-attacking try after only four minutes.

Wilkinson claimed a loose ball but could do little as he was swamped by the rampaging Ireland pack.

Ireland turned the ball over and Jamie Heaslip and Stephen Ferris made ground before feeding Sexton to slide home the stiletto.

Tommy Bowe

Bowe rips through England to clinch win

The Leinster man dummied to fix the covering defence before threading through a pin-point kick for Bowe to outpace Lewis Moody and score a fine try out wide, with Sexton missing the conversion.

The score was against the run of play and after re-establishing control of both territory and possession England finally got on the board when Wilkinson, who had earlier hit the post with a penalty, made no mistake with his second attempt.

A penalty apiece from Sexton and Wilkinson meant Ireland led 8-6 at the break and both fly-halves were then off target early in the second half, before Ireland scored their second try of the game.

Delighted O'Connell praises Ireland's defence

Ireland scrum-half Tomas O'Leary refused to give the ball to Danny Care after being penalised and when Care tangled with his opposite number the England number nine was penalised for retaliation.

Ireland kicked the penalty to the corner and after an initial drive was held up a crisp pass sent Earls over in the corner for an unconverted try to make it 13-6.

On a day of few chances it looked as though it would be the crucial score but England hit back to level things on the hour when tight-head prop Cole burrowed over from close range.

Wilkinson's conversion made it 13-13 and Ireland suffered a major blow two minutes later as captain Brian O'Driscoll was stretchered off after being accidentally kneed in the head by team-mate Paul O'Connell.

Winning Ireland try 'special' - Bowe

With 10 minutes to go England finally made their possession tell as Wilkinson slotted a right-foot drop-goal to give the hosts the lead for the first time.

But Ireland are not the defending champions for nothing and when they won good ball at a line-out Bowe cut a superb line past Wilkinson before rounding Ugo Monye for a marvellous try.

O'Gara's conversion took the visitors more than a kick clear and England's desperate final attack was in vain.

England: D Armitage, Cueto, Tait, Flutey, Monye, Wilkinson, Care, Payne, Hartley, Cole, Shaw, borthwick, Haskell, Moody, Easter.

Replacements: Foden for D Armitage (49), P Hodgson for Care (73), Mears for Hartley (64), Wilson for Cole (73), Deacon for Shaw (4), Worsley for Moody (55).

Not Used: Flood.

Ireland: G Murphy; Bowe, B O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Earls; Sexton, O'Leary; Healy, R Best, Hayes, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, Ferris, D Wallace, Heaslip.

Replacements: Trimble for B O'Driscoll (64), O'Gara for Sexton (69), Buckley for Hayes (63), Cullen for O'Callaghan (69), Jennings for D. Wallace (70).

Not Used: Cronin, Reddan.

Att: 81,554

Ref: Mark Lawrence (South Africa).

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see also
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