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England crush Ireland to finish second in Six Nations

Date

Julian Guyer

ENGLAND 30 IRELAND 9

England halfback Ben Youngs on his way to scoring a try.

England halfback Ben Youngs on his way to scoring a try. Photo: AFP

LONDON: England finished second in the Six Nations and boosted the chances of interim coach Stuart Lancaster becoming their permanent boss with a convincing 30-9 victory over Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday.

A youthful pack overpowered Ireland up front and that dominance was reflected when England scored a penalty try from a scrum heading into the final quarter.

Then, seven minutes from time, replacement scrum-half Ben Youngs sealed England's win -- only their second in nine Six Nations matches against Ireland -- with a sniping try as England 'won' the second half 21-3.

England's fly-half Owen Farrell kicks a penalty. Click for more photos

England finish Six Nations in style

England claim second spot in the Six Nations with thrashing of Ireland at Twickenham. Photo: AFP

Victory gave Lancaster a record of four victories from five matches since he was appointed on a caretaker basis following Martin Johnson's post World Cup resignation.

It also meant Lancaster had overseen his first Test win at Twickenham after champions Wales, who earlier on Saturday wrapped up the Grand Slam by beating France in Cardiff, won 19-12 in England's only other home match this tournament.

"The players were outstanding," said Lancaster, who refused to be drawn on his future.

"That's for others to decide. But if you told me that one day I would be applauding 80,000 people at Twickenham with a bunch of lads I respect, I would have taken that."

England's Owen Farrell kicked 20 points, with the fly-half again showing an impressive temperament.

All of Ireland's points came courtesy of three penalties from their fly-half, Jonathan Sexton.

Delighted England No 8 Ben Morgan, the man-of-the-match who, like Farrell, was given his Test chance by Lancaster, told the BBC: "We've shown how much potential we've got and credit to Stuart for creating the environment to showcase what we can do."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney said: "It's extremely painful. You don't like losing, don't like losing 30-9 and you don't like losing to England on St Patrick's Day, but all credit to them."

Kidney said the match had turned when Ireland tighthead prop Mike Ross went off shortly before half-time.

"It was something that was on the cards -- we don't have a huge number of Irish guys with tighthead experience," Kidney said.

But Ireland captain Rory Best, who as a hooker was right in the thick of the scrum, said England had been on top from the opening set-piece.

"We had a hiding from them right from the first scrum. They got a hold of us and didn't let us go."

England, on a day when rain made conditions tough for running rugby, took an early lead after Farrell kicked a 48 metre penalty after an Irish scrum offence.

Ireland equalised when, after England centre Brad Barritt was offside, Sexton kicked a 16th minute penalty.

England's pack gradually started to get on top and 20-year-old Farrell, son of England backs coach Andy, kicked his second penalty after Ireland illegally booted the ball out of a ruck.

Another solid England scrum created a routine penalty chance which Farrell converted five minutes before the break.

But Irish pressure at a ruck on the stroke of half-time gave Sexton an easy penalty shot and England were now just three points in front.

Blindside England flanker Tom Croft, who scored a superb solo try in last weekend's win over France in Paris, then burst through the Irish cover only to drop the ball as he contemplated a pass.

However, England's pack forced Ireland into collapsing the ensuing scrum and Farrell's fourth penalty made it 12-6.

Sexton's 52nd minute penalty again cut England's lead to three points but that was as good as it got for Ireland.

Pressure from full-back Ben Foden forced Ireland replacement Tomas O'Leary into carrying the ball over his own line and led to a five metre scrum.

England, after taking another scrum when Ireland's pack gave away a penalty, forced the Irish pack into standing up and Welsh referee Nigel Owens awarded a penalty try, which Farrell converted.

England were now well in front before Youngs's tap and go try and Farrell's sixth penalty sealed a well-deserved success.

ENGLAND 30 (Ben Youngs, penalty tries; Owen Farrell con; Farrell 6 pens) def IRELAND 9 (Jonathan Sexton 3 pens)

AFP

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