Wolfhounds bare teeth early on to see off sorry Saxons

IF the England Saxons expected to neuter the Wolfhounds at a gale-lashed Ravenhill last night they were in for a big surprise, as they were cut down to size in no uncertain terms.

Even though they had issues in the tight, the Irish boys showed their teeth in the first half with tries from Chris Henry and Denis Hurley helping them to a 14-3 interval lead into the face of a thunderous wind.

In a tale of two halves, the Wolfhounds withstood everything that the Saxons could muster, and that they did with great gusto with fly-half Ian Humphreys adding two sumptuous second half penalties to his couple of conversions.

Nevin Spence immediately brought the sparse crowd to life. He gained possession deep inside his own half and immediately bounced Billy Twelvetrees on his stump and then left Ugo Monye trailing, before finding Hurley in support with the Munster man sprinting in at the posts from 22 metres out.

Humphreys converted and the Wolfhounds were on their way. Handling and passing was an exercise in concentration and preciseness which almost allowed Johne Murphy a clear run to the line only to be fortuitously hand-tripped by last man Nick Abendanon.

England finally got on the board in the 19th minute following a scrum infringement, with fly-half Stephen Myler knocking over the penalty.

Then another chance went begging for the Irish soon afterwards when the backs sprayed the ball wide and a neat chip out wide by full-back David Kearney was perfect for Humphreys, who knocked on with the line at his mercy.

But it didn’t stop the Irish who went further ahead in the 26th minute after Saxons tight-head and a former Ireland U21 prop Paul Doran-Jones was sin-binned for killing the ball.

The Wolfhounds took a scrum and although they still struggled against a seven-man pack, number eight Chris Henry did brilliantly in picking and showing great strength to bullock his way over with Humphreys again adding the extras.

The Irish again found the going tough in the set-pieces and had to succumb to some concentrated pressure in the run-up to half-time. One scrum in particular took over three minutes to conclude with six re-sets and two stern warnings for the front-rows from French official Pascal Gauzere.

The Wolfhounds extended their lead six minutes after the restart with Humphreys banging over an audacious penalty from inside his own half.

However, that only temporarily relieved the pressure as the Irish loose-head Brett Wilkinson was yellow-carded for apparently collapsing a series of five-metre scrums. Ireland finally relented to the pressure when Moyne was given space on the left to trot in wide out in the 57th minute.

The Wolfhounds barely got a sniff of the ball in the second half and their lead was being run down, with Myler slotting over a close-in penalty in the 68th minute. It was batten down the hatches time for Eric Elwood’s men, and they proved adept at culling the Saxons in the final 10 minutes, with the bonus of Humphreys banging over a second penalty from 40 metres to put the icing on the cake.

Scorers for Irish Wolfhounds: D Hurley, C Henry try each; I Humphreys 2 cons, pen.

Scorers for England Saxons: U Monye try; S Myler 2 pens.

IRISH WOLFHOUNDS: D Kearney; J Murphy; E O’Malley, N Spence, D Hurley; I Humphreys, I Boss; B Wilkinson, D Varley, D Fitzpatrick (J Hagan, 68), D Ryan, M O’Driscoll, M McCarthy (D Ryan, 65), W Faloon (Nagle, 70), C Henry, capt,

ENGLAND SAXONS: N Abendanon; J Simpson-Daniel; M Tuilagi, B Twelvetrees (B Barritt, 48), U Monye; S Myler, J Simpson; A Corbisiero, l Mears, P Doran-Jones (J Marler, 40), G Kitchener, C Day, J Gaskell, C Robshaw, capt, L Narraway (S Aull (68).

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (FFR).

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