International Rugby

Ruthless England stun holders Ireland

Henry Slade scored a second-half double as ruthless England consigned Six Nations champions Ireland to a first home defeat for over two years with a 32-20 bonus-point victory in Dublin.

Joe Schmidt’s side started the defence of their title as firm favourites to retain it, but the 2018 Grand Slam winners were beaten for the first time on home soil since losing to New Zealand in November 2016.

Jonny May set the tone by scoring inside two minutes and Elliot Daly took advantage of a mistake from Jacob Stockdale to add another after Cian Healy touched down.

The lively Slade crossed twice for Eddie Jones’ side and Owen Farrell scored 12 points with the boot as Ireland’s 12-match winning run at the Aviva Stadium came to a juddering halt.

A second Johnny Sexton penalty and late converted John Cooney try and were all Ireland could muster after the interval as they were outplayed by a hugely impressive England side.

England silenced the majority of a raucous crowd by taking the lead just 90 seconds in, Farrell whipping a brilliant cut-out pass for Daly, who fed May on his outside for a superbly worked try.

Tom Curry was sent to the sin bin for a late hit on Keith Earls and Ireland had their opening try just after he returned when Healy dotted down, and Sexton slotted through the conversion.

England responded well to that setback and produced another slick move to go clear, Stockdale juggling the ball under pressure from Jack Nowell and Daly racing onto his own kick to punish the prolific Ireland wing.

Ireland were up against it and they breathed a sigh of relief on the stroke of half-time when Mako Vunipola had a try – which was initially awarded – ruled out by Jerome Garces for a double movement following consultation with the TMO, with England having to settle for a Farrell penalty that gave them a seven-point lead at the break.

Jordan Larmour replaced Earls at the interval and Sexton reduced the deficit to four points before Farrell was off target from the tee, with Maro Itoje and Devin Toner limping out of what continued to be a fierce tussle.

Slade gave clinical England breathing space when he darted to get on the end of a clever May kick to finish, then snaffled a stray pass from Sexton to rub salt into the wounds with a bonus-point try five minutes from time after a long-range Farrell penalty.

Cooney burst through to go over right at the end for a try that Sexton quickly converted, but England already had a deserved victory in the bag.


Mako Vunipola was outstanding in a brilliant all-round display for England, making an astonishing 25 tackles and 11 carries. The prop was denied a try on the stroke of half-time for a double movement, but was named man-of-the-match for an outstanding performance.


Much was made of the aerial bombardment that Daly would face after he was given the nod at full-back, but he and May were largely assured under the high ball as Sexton and Conor Murray were not allowed to dictate the play by England.


– England’s opening try was their first in Dublin since Delon Armitage crossed in 2011 in a Rugby World Cup warm-up game, they had failed to score a five-pointer in their three previous visits.

– Wing May has scored nine tries for England since the beginning of 2018, only Rieko Ioane has scored more in Test rugby during that time.


England host France, wounded by a second-half collapse against Wales, on Sunday and Ireland take on Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. News wire is powered by opta

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