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2011 Six Nations: Ireland 24-8 England

Ireland (14) 24
Tries: Bowe, O'Driscoll Con: Sexton Pens: Sexton 4
England (3) 8
Tries: Thompson Pens: Flood

Brian O'Driscoll

Highlights - Ireland 24-8 England

By James Standley

Ireland destroyed England's Grand Slam hopes but the visitors won the Six Nations after France beat Wales in Paris in the tournament's final match.

Three Jonathan Sexton penalties gave Ireland an early 9-0 lead which they extended as Tommy Bowe scythed over.

Toby Flood kicked a penalty for England but Ireland led 17-3 at half-time.

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll broke the championship try-scoring record with his 25th try before Steve Thompson collected a consolation score.

The result was a crushing disappointment for the visitors, who were chasing a first Grand Slam since 2003 when England manager Martin Johnson captained them to a thumping 42-6 win in Dublin.

England got it very wrong - Johnson

But the youthful visitors - 10 of the side were 25 or under - were on the back foot from the first whistle and Ireland never looked like losing as they secured a seventh win in eight attempts against England.

The hosts looked far more fired up than the visitors in the opening stages. Declan Kidney's side were better at the breakdown for much of the match and looked much more threatening with ball in hand as they ended a disappointing championship on a vibrant note.

Wales' defeat in France ensured England secured the Six Nations title, but as Johnson admitted afterwards, it was little consolation after their Grand Slam dreams turned sour.

Former England hooker Brian Moore said there could be "no arguments" about the result in Dublin, adding "Ireland were the better side from first to last".

Fellow BBC pundit Jeremy Guscott said Johnson would be "disappointed" that his side had lost but added that they would learn from the experience, saying "every team has to go through pain and hurt to make them better".

Ireland butchered England at the first scrum and soon took the lead as Sexton - back in place of Ronan O'Gara at fly-half - popped over a penalty after the visitors were off-side at a line-out.

The hosts dominated early territory and possession and doubled their advantage when Chris Ashton was penalised for a high tackle on Sexton and the fly-half landed his second penalty.


Ireland were doing a great job of turning over possession as they prevented the England ball carrier from getting to ground, and Kidney's side were also playing with pace and width in attack.

They looked to have pulled further clear with a marvellous try, but Bowe's final pass to O'Driscoll was correctly ruled forward.

It was a disappointment for the captain as it would have taken O'Driscoll, who went into the game level with Ian Smith on 24 tries, clear on his own as the all-time leading try scorer in the history of the Five and Six Nations.

However, his side had been awarded an advantage and Sexton duly made it 9-0 with just over a quarter of the match played.

England, who had been forced to bring on Simon Shaw in the second row for the injured Tom Palmer, had barely registered as an attacking force.

And when they finally earned a very kickable penalty, Flood's kicking boots deserted him and he pulled it badly to the left of the posts.

The mistake was immediately compounded as Ben Foden was forced into a desperate defensive kick and Jamie Heaslip carried the ball back with menace.

The entire England defence was caught off-side and Sexton tapped the resulting penalty and committed the defence before sending Bowe striding over.

Sexton missed the conversion but with less than half an hour on the clock England's dreams of the Grand Slam were as good as over.

Ireland too 'intense' for England - O'Driscoll

They finally managed to get on the board through a Flood penalty but a bad half continued for the visitors as they lost Ben Youngs to the sin-bin.

The 21-year-old England scrum-half had endured a difficult time, not helped by conceding a silly penalty at a scrum.

And when England just managed to halt a David Wallace charge for the line Youngs took the ball into touch and then threw it into the crowd.

Sexton made no mistake with the penalty and England were 17-3 down at the break, a margin which got worse as O'Driscoll crossed for his record-breaking 25th try seven minutes after the restart.

The iconic Ireland captain finished off another sweeping move by rounding Louis Deacon and diving over in the corner.

The resounding chorus of the Fields of Athenry was hushed only as long as it took Sexton to drill over the conversion and make it 24-3.

England gave themselves some hope as replacement hooker Steve Thompson intercepted an Eoin Reddan pass and scampered over from 40m, but the normally reliable Jonny Wilkinson could not convert.

As the game wore on the visitors enjoyed increasing possession but they rarely threatened to score and their Grand Slam hopes had disappeared long before the final whistle sounded to spark a party in Dublin.

Ireland: Earls; Bowe, B O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Trimble; Sexton, Reddan; Healy, Best, Ross, O'Callaghan, O'Connell, O'Brien, D Wallace, Heaslip.

Replacements: O'Gara for Sexton (69), Stringer for Reddan (71), Cronin for Best (71), Court for Ross (58), Cullen for O'Connell (78), D LEamy for D Wallace (71).

Not Used: P Wallace.

England: Foden; Ashton, Banahan, Hape, Cueto; Flood, Youngs; Corbisiero, Hartley, Cole, Deacon, Palmer, Wood, Haskell, Easter.

Replacements: Strettle for Cueto (66), Wilkinson for Flood (51), Care for Youngs (46), Thompson for Hartley (51), Doran-Jones for Cole (51), Croft for Deacon (55), Shaw for Palmer (27).

Sin Bin: Youngs (35).

Att: 51,000

Ref: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand).

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see also
Slam defeat a scar, says Johnson
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Irish proved a point - O'Driscoll
19 Mar 11 |  Irish
Six Nations final day as it happened
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations photos
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
England were second best - Easter
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Kidney heaps praise on Irish players
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Sexton happy to justify selection
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v England stats
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
England's last three Grand Slam attempts
17 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union

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