When Ireland last fielded their front line troops at the Aviva Stadium, against New Zealand in November, the rapturous response from players and fans alike at the final whistle could not have been more exuberant. Unbridled joy. Kings of the world.
On Saturday, French referee Jerome Garcès’ whistle to signal the end of our Six Nations opener just couldn’t come quick enough. Having failed to score a single try against Ireland in Dublin since 2011, England registered a first 1 minute 35 seconds into the game and bagged three more for a bonus point win to signal a seismic victory, not only in the context of this championship, but with a view on what’s to follow in a World Cup year.
The fact that Ireland failed to register a bonus point of any description could prove even more costly in a highly competitive championship that will prove challenging for any side to capture a Grand Slam. Ireland are out of that contest, with Wales and England looking the two viable candidates.
To describe this defeat as an ambush would be wrong. It was more an accident waiting to happen when some team would manage to stop Ireland bossing the collisions and winning the battle for the gain line. That is exactly what transpired on Saturday. England arrived in Dublin with a monstrous team, packed to the brim with explosive ball carriers with a capacity to do damage.
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