England shocked favourites Ireland with an outstanding victory in Dublin on Saturday and took a bonus point with them make a mockery of the pre-Six Nations Championship predictions.
Does this result throw the competition wide open after the early near-acceptance that Ireland would win it? Hardly, one would suggest. On the performance of their 32-20 bonus point win, England are not going to be easy to subdue by their remaining four adversaries.
But then, those sides might now just believe it is possible after this turn-up for the books.
Three of England’s tries were because of defensive lapses by Ireland as much as good play by England. However, on the whole Eddie Jones’ charges thoroughly deserved the win which was built around a solid and abrasive rush defence. Johnny Sexton and his backs had no answer to that.
♦ England were up 7-0 after just two minutes when Ireland left their right open side unattended, or at least with too few defensive personnel and Jonny May scored in the left hand corner. With Owen Farrell converting from touch the pressure was on and Ireland, despite a brief lead of 10-7 after 11 minutes that lasted only a few minutes, never convinced as probable winners in this match of big hits and aggressive forward play and tackling.
England scored four tries to two, with Ireland’s second coming just before the end.
♦ It was England’s first win over Ireland in Dublin since 2013 and ends Ireland’s run of six consecutive wins in the Six Nations since March 2017.
Ireland (10) 20: Tries: Cian Healy, John Cooney. Conversions: Johnny Sexton (2). Penalties: Sexton (2).
England (17) 32: Tries: Jony May, Elliot Daly, Henry Slade (2). Conversons: Owen Farrell (3). Penalties: Farrell (2).
♦ At Murrayfield Italy came back strongly ‒ although not mounting a serious challenge ‒ with two tries in the last six minutes to lose by 20-33 to a Scottish side that were coasting at 33-3.
Blair Kinghorn scored a hat-trick with two tries in the first half and completed his hat-trick before the hour to seal maximum points for the Scots. It extended their Championship winning streak at Murrayfield to seven games.
Scotland showed that they should not be taken lightly, but do not look like probable Six Nations winners.
Scotland (12) 33: Tries; Blair Kinghorn (3), Stuart Hogg, Chris Harris. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (3), Finn Russell.
Italy (3) 20: Tries Angelo Esposito, Guglielmo Palazzani, Edoardo Padovani. Conversion: Tomassa Allan. Penalty: Allan.