Here's how the English media reacted to beating Ireland

Here's how the English media reacted to beating Ireland
Henry Slade of England celebrates after scoring his side's third try with Manu Tuilagi. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

They say that pride comes before the fall. So if 2018 was Irish Rugby's proudest year, 2019 has started with at least a slip.

Ireland's 32-20 defeat to England has scuppered any plans Joe Schmidt may have had of securing back-to-back Grand Slams before heading to the World Cup later this year.

Schmidt stated after the defeat that Ireland were "bullied" by England and that it was his "most disappointing defeat at the Aviva".

England's Billy Vunipola is tackled by Ireland's Robbie Henshaw during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)
England's Billy Vunipola is tackled by Ireland's Robbie Henshaw during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

"We were physically bettered. I don't think I've seen a game we played here where our opponents got so many dominant tackles and carried physically in the manner that they did."

But while Ireland reflects, the English media has been praising a return to form for the old enemy.

Commenting on how difficult a job it was to beat Ireland in their own back yard, the BBC's Chief Sports Writer, Tom Fordyce writes: "One win here [in Dublin] since 2003. No tries in eight years. Ireland on a run of 12 home wins on the bounce and 18 victories from their past 19 matches."

A tall order that the Old Chariot backed up. "England have waited a long time for a display like this," says Fordyce, adding that the scoreline "could have been more, comfortably."

Referring to the win as England's best under coach Eddie Jones, Fordyce highlights three players for special praise.

"The two Vunipolas, Mako and his brother Billy, carrying like bulldozers and felling men like human chainsaws. Manu Tuilagi bouncing defenders off him like a big kid running through a ball-pool."

The Guardian's Robert Kitson doesn't hold back in his assesment.

No grand slam this time, just the eerie thud of lofty Irish reputations crashing back down to earth.

Kitson focuses on Ireland's perceived preference at being the underdog, writing that "given the choice between being the hunters or the hunted, Irish rugby players instinctively prefer the underdogs’ basket.

"Being garlanded as near-invincible champions before a ball has even been kicked is rather less comfortable terrain."

There is plenty of praise for England from Kitson, saying they deserve "huge credit" and that the Red Rose "in virtually all areas, were superior."

The Guardian also singles Tuilagi out for praise, with Andy Bull writing that he "felt like the missing piece of the jigsaw Jones had finally found underneath the sofa cushions."

Bull also highlights the depth England had, especially in the second-row, as they capped off "the signature performance England needed"

"After 50 minutes, they brought on Courtney Lawes, after 55, Nathan Hughes. It was a knockout one-two."

Ireland's depth has been heralded in many parts but the loss of Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson to injury before the tournament seems a bigger blow now.

Former Lions coach Ian McGeechan also highlights England's depth and composure, writing in The Telegraph that "even when they [England] lost both their starting second rows in George Kruis and Maro Itoje, you almost would not have noticed."

McGeechan points to Robbie Henshaw's "positional uncertainty at full-back" as something England exploited.

Henshaw is an excellent footballer but he is primarily a centre. Even though he is a strong catcher, there is a huge difference between playing regularly at centre and full back, where positioning is everything.

McGeechan says Henshaw should have been closer to Jacob Stockdale for England's second try, saying those "tiny margins" are "the difference between the unique decisions a full back has to make and any other position on the field."

Also in The Telegraph, Mick Cleary praises a "bold and resilient" England as the History Boys, "the ones to thrillingly re-write that Red Rose ledger of gloom that had recorded only one win in Dublin in 15 years."

Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Jack de Menezes, of The Independent is another to praise the Vuinipola brothers.

He writes that with Mako and Billy "playing the type of God-like rugby that marked them out among the world’s best, England overpowered Ireland in a way that hasn’t happened during Joe Schmidt’s reign."

England's World Cup winning coach, Clive Woodward, said the win was "a real line in the sand".

Writing in the Daily Mail, he says: "All the rubbish from last year has been consigned to the dustbin, England are on track and Eddie has his mojo back after the distractions of 2018."

Woodward is another who pointed to the Irish fullback, saying "England exposed Ireland playing Robbie Henshaw who was at full-back with their kicking game."

He adds that: "Ireland had no answer and it has been a while since we have said that."

Stuart Barnes, writing in The Sunday Times heaps more praise on Tuilagi, saying that Jones "must have been rubbing his chilly hands at the prospect of what is to come when the Leicester Tiger hits full tilt."

Barnes continues to say that Tuilagi's defence was disciplined.

He kept his line and avoided rushing in order to maintain England's shape. There is more, much more, to come from him.

That paper's Chief Sports Writer, David Keane, says in his piece that "England were the hunters and Ireland were the hunted" adding that Schmidt's side was "given a taste of their own medicine".

Keane says Ireland were taken to the cleaners in their own backyard as Jones and Co "reminded Ireland that the distance between a pat and the back and a kick on the backside is very short indeed."

"To say they [Ireland] were outclassed may sound harsh, but it is not. England were too good."

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