Cabbage Patch memories: The good, the bad, and the heartbreaking from Irish trips to Twickenham

Five recent memories from the Ireland-England rivalry
Cabbage Patch memories: The good, the bad, and the heartbreaking from Irish trips to Twickenham


February 27, 2010: Bowe Ties England In Knots

England 16

Ireland 20

How the Irish Examiner saw it (March 1, 2010):

“As one searches for reasons for Ireland’s win against the head, (Declan) Kidney himself must qualify as one of the primary factors.

His original selection, the way he used his bench and the manner in which his management team, and most especially defence coach Les Kiss, got things right, came in for much deserved praise in the pubs and clubs throughout London on Saturday night.”

Championship impact:

Ireland ended England’s Grand Slam hopes in this round three clash and rebounded from defeat in France but though a win the following week over Wales gave them a shot at a second consecutive Triple Crown, the previous year’s Grand Slam winners ended 2010 with a defeat at home to Scotland to finish second behind all conquering France.

The Game: A late Tommy Bowe try converted by sub Ronan O’Gara sealed this nerve-wracking encounter at Twickenham as Ireland inflicted a first defeat of the campaign on Martin Johnson’s England on the day John Hayes won his 100th Test cap. It was wing Bowe’s second try, the Ulster man having scored his first early on with a penalty from starting fly-half Johnny Sexton nudging the Irish into an 8-6 half-time lead, Jonny Wilkinson’s two penalties keeping the English in touch.

A Keith Earls try extended Ireland’s lead only for Wilkinson’s conversion of Dan Cole’s try to make it 13-13.

Cue the drama. Wilkinson’s drop goal sent England in front only for Bowe to grab his second try and O’Gara’s conversion seeing Ireland home at a rain-sodden Twickenham.

England dominated possession but failed to make it count on the scoreboard, and it was Bowe and company who made the difference with their sharper cutting edge that gave his country six wins in seven matches against the English.

March 19, 2006: One of those ‘I was there’ days

England 24

Ireland 28

How the Irish Examiner saw it (March 20, 2006):

“Forget about the rugby, this was pure theatre. When Andy Goode slotted a penalty to put England three points ahead with five minutes remaining at Twickenham, Ireland’s Triple Crown aspirations looked dead and buried.

All week Eddie O’Sullivan stressed that if Ireland had sufficient belief in their collective ability, then they would win. When it mattered most, that inner confidence came to the fore.”

Championship impact?

Victory in the final game gave O’Sullivan’s Ireland their second Triple Crown in three seasons but having needed an unlikely 34-point victory to take the title, France instead took the championship and consigned the Irish to another second place-finish. England, meanwhile, finished fourth.

The Game:

A dramatic Shane Horgan try, converted by Ronan O’Gara in the dying moments at Twickenham gave Ireland the edge in an enthralling encounter to spark wild celebrations. Jamie Noon had given England the lead with an early try but Ireland led 11-8 at half-time thatnk’s to Horgan’s first try of the game and Ronan O’Gara outscoring Andy Goode by two penalties to one.

The tit for tat continued in the second period as a Steve Borthwick try was cancelled out by Denis Leamy’s score restoring Ireland’s lead.

Goode then landed two penalties to push the home side back in front at 24-21 only for Horgan to strike in the corner right at the death.

The drama was ramped up by uncertainty as to whether the wing had put a foot in touch or not but the TMO ruled in Ireland’s favour and O’Gara’s conversion confirmed Ireland’s third straight win over the English.

March 6, 2004: England Walk Into The Web

England 13

Ireland 19

How the Irish Examiner saw it (March 8, 2004):

“Ireland offered a compulsive case again on Saturday that aggression and possession win matches.

In an absorbing battle of wits, the men in green came up trumps to rock the world champions on their own turf and end a run of 22 victories stretching back to 1999.”

Championship impact?

This victory was part two of a Triple Crown campaign, Ireland sealing the salver with a home win over Scotland in the final round but finishing second in the table, a place ahead of Clive Woodward’s World Cup winners but one behind Grand Slam winners France.

The Game:

This was supposed to be glorious homecoming of the World champions but Ireland spoiled the party as they inflicted a first home loss on the English in five years, England had looked to be in their pomp when scrum-half Matt Dawson grabbed the opening try in the first half to finish off a well-executed move but Ronan O’Gara kept the scoreboard ticking over for Ireland with four penalties to give the visitors a 12-10 half-time advantage.

Full-back Girvan Dempsey put further daylight between Eddie O’Sullivan’s side and the English before Paul Grayson kept England in touch with a 66th-minute penalty.

That set up a desperate finish from England but despite their frantic pressure, Ireland clung on to their lead for a famous and long-awaited win.


February 22, 2014: Slugfest

England 13

Ireland 10

How the Irish Examiner saw it (February 24, 2014):

An “immensely physical, bone-shuddering classic... This one was close, very close and though it may be harder to take initially, because of that, the rebound should be easier to engineer because a good Ireland side were beaten by a marginally better English outfit in a wonderful contest.”

Championship impact?

For Ireland a Triple Crown and Grand Slam were lost that day but there was a silver lining. This was the only defeat of the campaign and Paul O’Connell’s side earned title success the following month with a victory in Paris to give Schmidt a stunning championship debut.

The Game:

This thrilling round three encounter was described by Joe Schmidt as being “as close to a slugfest as you’d get”. Either way it was an epic heavyweight Test match, one try scored apiece but in no way lacking for attacking intent in a fast-paced helter-skelter of a game. The threats came thick and fast but were thwarted by excellent defending from both sides, Conor Murray with a notable early covering tackle on Jonny May, to leave the score just 3-0 to England at the break.

It was Ireland who threw down the gauntlet in the second half, Rob Kearney finishing a superb attacking move under the posts with Johnny Sexton’s conversion and a penalty putting them 10-3 up.

Back came England, a strong carry and good offload from captain Chris Robshaw sending full-back Mike Brown into open country, the full-back drawing his man and moving the ball onto a third Harlequins player, scrum-half Danny Care, to score under the posts, Owen Farrell’s conversion adding to his two earlier penalties to make it 13-10.

It paved the way for a frantic final 15 minutes typified by Joe Launchbury’s last minute chase down of Ireland wing Dave Kearney.

The three Irish victories there in the Six Nations had been one-score affairs but the losses until this point had been heavy.

March 17, 2012: Scrum sorrow

England 30

Ireland 9

How the Irish Examiner saw it (March 19, 2012):

“Ireland’s weird and not very wonderful RBS 6 Nations campaign took a final turn towards the absurd at Twickenham on the last day of the championship as Kidney’s men were rolled over by a committed, powerful and not very ambitious England side.”

Championship impact?

A losing end to a campaign that had started with a similarly disappointing home defeat by Wales, sealed with a controversial late penalty. Then came a home hammering of Italy and a postponed game against France, due to a frozen pitch. The rearranged fixture ended in a 17-17 draw, Ireland having led 17-6 at the interval and the win over Sctoland saw Kidney’s side finish third in the standings, with England second.

The Game:

A second defeat to the English in 2011-12, following a 20-9 World Cup warm-up loss in Dublin the previous August, Declan Kidney’s Irish had been bullied at the breakdown that summer’s afternoon. The source of this Patrick’s Day drubbing was twofold, a terrible error count and a disastrous scrum.

Ireland lost tight head linchpin Mike Ross to a neck injury in the 36th minute that he had suffered at the first scrum in the opening minute, when England had set the tone with a big shunt that earned them the first of nine scrum penalties. A second-half penalty try would follow and effectively put the game beyond Ireland. Until his premature exit in this final game of the 2012 championship, Ross had been used for all but two minutes in this campaign. This was still the era of the one prop subs’ bench and the poor unfortunate at Twickenham was a loose head, Tom Court. It was like shooting fish in a barrel for English loosehead Alex Corbisiero alongside Dylan Hartley and tighthead Dan Cole. Ireland had been within three points, 9-6, at half-time as Johnny Sexton punished England indiscipline, but it was Owen Farrell who enjoyed the rewards of his pack’s demolition of the Irish scrum.He kicked six penalties with Ben Youngs adding to the penalty try with his score from a tap penalty.

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