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  • Writer's pictureThe Season Ticket

Six Nations | England end Ireland's Grand Slam dreams

Ireland have tasted defeat under Andy Farrell for the first time, falling to a 24-12 defeat to England in Twickenham.

The loss ends Ireland's Triple Crown and Grand Slam hopes, but leaves the race for the Six Nations title wide open.

England were worthy winners in a one-sided affair, with George Ford, Elliot Daly and Luke Cowan-Dickie scoring the tries for Eddie Jones' hosts.

Robbie Henshaw and Andrew Porter crossed the whitewash for Ireland in the second half, but it was too little too late for the visitors.

Ireland struggled to deal with England's excellent kicking game, and were camped deep in their own half for the opening 10 minutes.

Beaten World Cup finalists England piled on the pressure, with Ford crossing for their first try after just seven minutes.

After several strong carries, Ben Youngs sent a probing kick in behind the Irish defence.

Johnny Sexton was first to the ball, but fumbled it behind the try-line, allowing a grateful Ford to ghost in and ground the ball.

Owen Farrell, son of Ireland manager Andy, converted to make it 7-0 inside 10 minutes.

Sexton's misery continued when the Leinster out-half missed a 14th-minute penalty, one which he really should have scored to reduce the deficit.

England snatched their second try in the 24th minute after more sustained pressure.

Farrell's looping kick should have been dealt with by Jacob Stockdale, but his indecision allowed Daly to dive on the loose, bouncing ball just inches from the end-line.

Farrell added another conversion to make it 14-0.

Cian Healy had to be withdrawn due to injury around the half hour mark, with Dave Kilcoyne coming on to replace the Leinster veteran.

Ireland, in an error-strewn performance reminiscent of a forgettable 2019, could not cope with England's physicality and power.

Farrell split the posts with a penalty a minute before half time - with James Ryan penalized for an offside - to give the dominant home side a 17-0 advantage at the interval.

Ireland improved after the break, and registered their first points of the game in the 49th minute.

Extended pressure deep in the England half eventually allowed a determined Henshaw to barge his way over the try-line from close range, holding off the tackles of Farrell and Tom Curry.

Sexton, whose kicking was horribly amiss, missed the subsequent conversion.

The next score was to be crucial, and it was England who notched the game's fourth try.

In the 61st minute, hooker Cowan-Dickie bundled over from close range shortly after England were awarded a scrum penalty.

Farrell made no mistake with his third conversion, extending England's lead to 24-5.

Ireland scored a consolation try in stoppage time, with Porter squirming over from close range.

Substitute John Cooney converted with the last kick of the match to make it 24-12, with England deserved victors as 'Swing Low' echoed around the stadium.

#TeamOfUs Highlights from a tough game in Twickenham. A huge thank you as always for the support. #GuinnessSixNations #ENGvIRE #ShoulderToShoulder — Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 23, 2020

"The score-line flattered us," Farrell conceded afterwards.

"I'll take responsibility. It's about preparation and want and grit and that was lacking. You look at bounces of the ball but it comes from pressure. They were ferocious at the breakdown and they hit really hard."

After three rounds, both teams are on nine points from two wins and one defeat.

France top the standings on 13 points.

Wales and Scotland are tied on six points, while Italy have yet to register a point.

England: Elliot Daly (Saracens); Jonny May (Leicester), Manu Tuilagi (Leicester), Owen Farrell (Saracens, capt), Jonathan Joseph (Bath); George Ford (Leicester), Ben Youngs (Leicester); Joe Marler (Harlequins), Jamie George (Saracens), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Maro Itoje (Saracens), George Kruis (Saracens), Courtney Lawes (Northampton), Sam Underhill (Bath), Tom Curry (Sale).

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), Ellis Genge (Leicester), Will Stuart (Bath), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Ben Earl (Saracens), Willi Heinz (Gloucester), Henry Slade (Exeter).

Ireland: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (capt), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Devin Toner, James Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Ultan Dillane, Caelan Doris, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Keith Earls.

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