England have beaten Ireland 57-15 in their World Cup warm-up Test at Twickenham.
England threatened the Ireland tryline throughout but it was tit for tat in the scoring stakes until midfield powerhouse Manu Tuilagi breached the Irish defence off the back of a five-metre scrum to send the home side 10 points clear five metres before half-time, Owen Farrell’s conversion making it 22-10 going to the interval.
To think Ireland had the chance to go to number one in the world on Saturday. Instead, their World Cup ambitions wilted under the Twickenham heat as Joe Schmidt suffered the biggest defeat of his six-year tenure as head coach. England may be further down the road in terms of conditioning after two tough workouts against Wales in previous weeks but Irish rustiness was only part of the issue as the lineout continued to creak and the defence was pulled apart by England’s strong carrying over the gainline and poor reads when the home side entered the 22. Eight tries and 34 missed tackles tell their sorry tale.
England captain Owen Farrell won the man of the match award as he led his side to a crushing victory after his move from fly-half to inside centre, dovetailing neatly with starting 10 George Ford, overcoming an early goal-kicking wobble to slot six conversions and one penalty. It was in truth an excellent all-around England team performance as they bullied the Irish in contact and laid down a serious World Cup marker.
Nigel Owens replaced Jaco Peyper as the man in the middle after the South African official could not reach London in time and it didn’t really matter who was in charge as England dominated proceedings at Twickenham. That said, the Welsh official could have chosen red instead of the yellow he issued to English lock George Kruis in the final minute after a high and late hit on Jack Carty. The citing commissioner could well be involved.
England 6 Ireland 5
The worries pile up for Ireland after first-choice loosehead prop Cian Healy hobbled off with an ankle injury just before half-time. Conor Murray was removed for Head Injury Assessment midway through the opening period and though he returned from the HIA he was subbed permanently at half-time.
England were forced into a late bench change when outside back Jonathan Joseph was replaced by Harlequin centre/wing Joe Marchant after the Bath star reported muscle soreness.
Ireland will be on the road again next weekend when they return to Cardiff, scene of their final-round Six Nation defeat as Wales completed their Grand Slam. Saturday’s Principality Stadium fixture is the first of two back-to-back games with Warren Gatland’s side, which will see both teams complete their World Cup build-up schedule at the Aviva Stadium on September 7.
E Daly; J Cokanasiga, M Tuilagi (J Marchant, 71), O Farrell - captain (P Francis, 67), J May; G Ford, B Youngs (W Heinz, 53); J Marler (M Vunipola, 61), J George (L Cowan-Dickie, 53), K Sinckler (D Cole, 59); M Itoje, G Kruis; T Curry (C Lawes, 58), S Underhill (M Wilson, 58), B Vunipola.
Kruis 79 mins
R Kearney (A Conway, 55); J Larmour, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; R Byrne (J Carty, 55), C Murray (L McGrath, 27-37 HIA & 40); C Healy (J McGrath, 39), R Best - captain (S Cronin, 53), T Furlong (A Porter, 53); I Henderson (T Beirne, 60), J Kleyn (D Toner, 53); P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, CJ Stander.
Nigel Owens (Wales)
Murray injured as Ireland thrashed by ruthless England in World Cup warm-up
England issued a powerful statement ahead of the World Cup by overwhelming Ireland 57-15 at Twickenham in a victory that set records for highest score and greatest winning margin against their Six Nations rivals.
Tries in each half by Joe Cokanasiga and additional touch downs from Elliot Daly, Manu Tuilagi, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Tom Curry and Luke Cowan-Dickie indicated Eddie Jones’ men will be genuine contenders in Japan this autumn.
At the heart of a second triumph of the summer’s four warm-up Tests was man of the match Tuilagi, who bristled with power and intent that tormented a vulnerable Irish defence that fell to pieces in the second-half.
It was Joe Schmidt’s team who took first blood through an early Jordan Larmour try, but their hopes of clinching the win that would lift them to the summit of the global rankings at the expense of Wales quickly disintegrated.
The greatest danger England faced was not from impotent Ireland but sunburn as Twickenham roasted in temperatures that peaked at 30 degrees, yet they were well equipped for broiling conditions having spent 10 days in a heat camp in Treviso.
Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola were magnificent up-front, while George Ford is arguing a strong case to reclaim the fly-half duties for the World Cup, but players excelled across the whole starting XV.
While England fans will be daring to dream would could unfold in Japan this autumn, their Irish counterparts must be questioning whether a team that laboured to third place in the Six Nations are in full reverse.
And to add misfortune to misery, they also came off worse on the injury count as Cian Healy suffered an ankle injury before Conor Murray was withdrawn at half-time having earlier passed a Head Injury Assessment.