England Gain Revenge
England ended their World Cup preparations on a high with a 20-9 victory over Ireland in an intensely physical encounter in Dublin on Saturday.
Tries from Manu Tuilagi and Delon Armitage plus a further 10 points from Jonny Wilkinson took England to their first success away to Ireland for eight years.
Tryless Ireland were relegated to their fourth successive defeat and suffered the added worry of losing two of their starting back row - David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip - to injury during the first half.
England's game, although an improvement over the loss to Wales two weeks ago, was marred by indiscipline and just a minute into the second half they were reduced to 14 men when Chris Ashton was dispatched to the sin bin.
In spite of their infringements at the breakdown though, Martin Johnson's men showed encouraging spells in attack and the forwards played a smart and powerful game including some impressive carries from late call-up Hendrie Fourie.
The backs too looked sharper than in Cardiff and, although they lost opportunities through lying too deep in attack, Tuilagi's pace and power add an unpredictable dimension to England's attack.
England enjoyed a powerful start via the forwards but failed to trouble the Irish defence, and, after finding themselves pushed back towards the halfway line Wilkinson attempted a long range drop-goal attempt that flew wide.
It was a different story two minutes later though when James Haskell drove across the gain line, setting England up to unleash the backs.
With quick ball from the breakdown, England's midfield created space on the left and, as Keith Earls drifted wide, Tuilagi burst through the gap and raced in for the try. Wilkinson added the conversion to take England into a 7-0 lead after five minutes.
Four minutes later Ronan O'Gara pulled three back when Courtney Lawes was penalised for a late tackle on fullback Geordan Murphy.
But Wilkinson restored the advantage just before the 14 minute mark after good work by England's forwards brought the visitors a penalty within shooting distance.
O'Gara slotted another three-pointer from in front of the sticks to make it 10-6, shortly after Tuilagi was penalised for a thunderous tackle on Irish flanker David Wallace, who was stretchered off.
But five minutes later the Irish were penalised for a high tackle on Lawes and Wilkinson was able to put his side back to seven in front.
On the half-hour mark Tuilagi blasted through to grab a loose ball from the lineout and sprinted 60 metres upfield before he was hauled down yards short by Murphy.
England's discipline at the breakdown continued to let them down and O'Gara made it 13-9 when the visitors were handed their sixth penalty four before half time.
With just a minute gone of the second half Ashton paid the price for England’s continued infringement at the breakdown when the Northampton Saints wing was caught off his feet at the ruck and England were reduced to 14 men.
But Johnson’s men quickly overcame their numerical disadvantage to grab their second try after the forwards dragged the Irish defence infield to create space out wide.
Armitage finished the move near the left corner when he pounced on Mike Tindall's beautifully weighted chip through the Irish line.
Wilkinson booted a fine conversion to add the extras and take England into a 20-9 lead after 46 minutes.
The Irish seemed to run out of options thereafter and, although they tried to challenge, their attacks either petered out or never seriously troubled the England defence.
Ireland - Penalties: Ronan O'Gara (3)
England - Tries: Manu Tuilagi, Delon Armitage. Conversions: Jonny Wilkinson (2). Penalties: Wilkinson (2).
With thanks to rfu.com