England ended their Six Nations campaign with a comprehensive 30-9 victory over Ireland in London.
There was no sense that the sides’ intensity and ambition was affected by Wales’ earlier title-securing win. Indeed they were brutal at the gainline, driving runners back with force and in the process dislodging the ball many times. Certainly the torrential showers that fell on Twickenham throughout the Test contributed to this but the poor ball protection in contact ensured the contest never settled into a flow and tempo.
England lead 9-6 at the break, Owen Farrell trading penalties with Jonathan Sexton. However, Ireland had enough possession in England’s 22m to have been in a better position on the scoreboard at that point. But they were wasteful, predictable and unimaginative and as a result were easily repelled.
England weren’t much better in this regard for 50 minutes of the match, their phase play laboured and their attacks often lateral. Their scrum, however, was vastly superior and their breakdown contest rabid which earned them regular shots at goal.
Tom Croft butchered an excellent scoring opportunity early in the second half but England took the ascendency going into the final quarter when they were awarded a penalty try. Farrell converted to go with an earlier penalty and added another three pointer shortly thereafter to give England a comfortable 22-9 lead.
Ireland’s scrum capitulated under the pressure exerted by England’s eight and you sensed their resolve reversed as quickly as their shove. They never looked like mounting a late comeback and England and when England massacred them yet again at scrum time, earning another penalty, Ben Youngs quick tapped and caught Ireland in a deep slumber to score.
You have to think that England advanced their caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster’s cause to get a full time gig with this impressive performance. Expect him to be named ahead of Nick Mallett when that announcement is made in the near future.