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England hit another level to scupper Ireland's Triple Crown bid with ruthless Twickenham drubbing

England 24-12 Ireland

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Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony reacts as his side are floored by England.

Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony reacts as his side are floored by England.

AFP via Getty Images

Elliot Daly beats Jacob Stockdale to the ball to score his team's second try

Elliot Daly beats Jacob Stockdale to the ball to score his team's second try

Getty Images

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Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony reacts as his side are floored by England.

In the end, Ireland enjoyed this trip to Twickenham no more than their last.

This was no record defeat a la last August, no permanent place in the record books, but it will have stung just the same.

Without firing a shot, they return home with the air having been let out of their Six Nations balloon.

No Triple Crown, no Grand Slam and, by and large, no contest.

Back at headquarters, England were always likely to be a different beast than the one we'd seen to date in this championship but, as they have been in the meetings between these two since Ireland won their 2018 Slam, they were a different level here, offering a physical dominance that Ireland never looked able to match.

Maro Itoje was the game's dominant figure - shutting down Ireland time and time again so far behind the gainline that you instinctively looked to the replay in search of an offside that wasn't. But he was far from alone in a punishing performance, the game won by England up front with only James Ryan seeming to land much in the way of a counter-punch.

It wasn't all about their obvious superiority - Andy Farrell's men had their own hand in the defeat too with England's first two tries the product of misplays behind their own whitewash.

It started badly and got no better.

After eight minutes of rugby played exclusively in the Irish half, England had their breakthrough.

Murray's box-kick, under pressure from Maro Itoje, found not touch but the arms of Jonny May and, as England came back inside, Ben Youngs poked the ball through.

While Sexton and Andrew Conway appeared to have matters in hand, the bounce did for the Irish captain as he tried to gather with his opposite number George Ford the gleeful recipient.

Ireland looked sure to claw to back three points when Courtney Lawes was caught at the breakdown by Jaco Peyper but Sexton's opening to forget continued as he horribly skewed his penalty from in front of the posts.

The collisions were huge - most notably on the multiple occasions when Tuilagi met CJ Stander - and Ireland had Peter O'Mahony to thank for an escape act on the twenty minute mark, the Munster man snaffling a lineout five metres out after his side had shipped a scrum penalty.

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But they would make another mess of a bouncing ball beyond their try-line soon after, this time Jacob Stockdale indecision seeing him shrugged aside before Elliot Daly got his hand to the ball just before it rolled dead.

One more penalty from Farrell made it 17-0 at the turn. Not a score that flattered Eddie Jones's side by any measure.

The opening shots of the second-half saw more time spent in the English half than at any point prior to the turn and despite the England repelling the first thrusts, with half an hour remaining Robbie Henshaw darted between Farrell and Tom Curry as Ireland played with penalty advantage.

There was no shift in momentum though, England moving on to claim a bonus-point always looking more likely than any Irish fightback.

The scrum was added to the list of Irish woes and it was from one such penalty that England ultimately would ultimately get their third score, a mauled effort replacement hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie.

All that was left to sort was the matter of that bonus-point. Despite one dangerous moment when Henshaw was perhaps fortunate not to see an off the ball tackle go unpunished, it wouldn't come. Indeed Ireland would bag the game's last score through Andrew Porter with the clock long since turned red, John Cooney adding the extra from the tee.

That was one thing that didn't go England's way on the day. Everything else most certainly did.

England: E Daly; J May, M Tuilagi, O Farrell (capt), J Joseph; G Ford, B Youngs; J Marler, J George, K Sinckler; M Itoje, G Kruis, C Lawes, S Underhill, T Curry.

Replacements: L Cowan-Dickie (for George, 51), E Genge (for Marler, 57), W Stuart (for Sinckler, 68), J Launchury (for Kruis, 60), C Ewels (for Lawes, 57), B Earl (for Curry, 65), W Heinz (for Youngs, 57), H Slade (for Tuilagi, 73)

Ireland: J Larmour; A Conway, R Henshaw, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton (capt), C Murray; C Healy, R Herring, T Furlong; D Toner, J Ryan; P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, CJ Stander.

Replacements: R Kelleher (for Herring, 60), D Kilcoyne (for Healy, 25), A Porter (for Furlong, 57), U Dillane (for Toner, 60), C Doris (for van der Flier, 60), J Cooney (for Murray, 54), R Byrne (for Conway, 65), K Earls (for Larmour, 63).

Referee: J Peyper

Man of the match: C Lawes (ENG)


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