ENGLAND 13 IRELAND 10
Care flight: England's Danny Care dives in to score the decisive try against Ireland. Photo: Andrew Matthews
A second-half Danny Care try helped England to a 13-10 victory over Ireland in a thrilling encounter at Twickenham Saturday to keep their Six Nations rugby championship hopes very much alive.
Duncan Weir was the hero for Scotland in the day's other match as his last-gasp drop goal gave his side their first victory of the campaign, 21-20 against Italy in Rome.
England should have had a try as early as the sixth minute but Jonny May had the ball ripped from his hands by Conor Murray when poised to score. However the home side still went in ahead at the break thanks to an Owen Farrell penalty.
Six Nations rugby photos: England v Ireland
England's Jack Nowell (L) evades a tackle from Ireland's Jonathan Sexton during their Six Nations Championship rugby union match at Twickenham in London February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT RUGBY) Photo: EDDIE KEOGH
|View Match Statistics|
|Players||Care (56min)||Tries||1||Tries||1||Players||Kearney (41min)|
|Players||Farrell 1/1 (100%)||Conversions||1||Conversions||1||Players||Sexton 1/1 (100%)|
|Players||Farrell 2/3 (66%)||Penalty goals||2||Penalty goals||1||Players||Sexton 1/1 (100%)|
|Players||Drop goals||0||Drop goals||0||Players|
Ireland came out the stronger and Rob Kearney cut through the English defence two minutes after the restart to score the first try of the game with Jonny Sexton slotting over the resultant conversion to move the visitors 7-3 in front.
The sides exchanged penalties in a bruising encounter before a Mike Brown line-break eventually set up Care to score under the posts.
Farrell kicked the conversion to put England 13-10 ahead although Ireland exerted significant pressure in the final ten minutes, England remained firm to seal the win.
The result leaves England, France, Wales and Ireland all tied on four points at the top of the Six Nations table although Ireland have a considerable points-difference advantage of +42, compared to +21 for England, +6 for Wales and +1 for France. Defending champions Wales trounced France 27-6 in the Friday night game.
"It was a proper Test match, two quality sides going at it and I thought we were excellent throughout. We showed a real maturity in seeing the game out," England coach Stuart Lancaster told the BBC.
"Given the experience and form of the Ireland team and some of the relative inexperience in our team I was just so proud of them and I am delighted for them. Ireland threw everything at us but once we got that lead we just clung on."
Earlier Saturday, Scotland prevailed in the probable Wooden Spoon encounter against Italy thanks to Weir's late heroics.
Italy led 13-3 at the break thanks to a Tommaso Allan try just before the half-time whistle, with the Italian fly-half also converting and kicking two earlier penalties.
Scotland's only points of the first period came from the boot of Greig Laidlaw, who reduced the deficit further with another penalty before Alex Dunbar powered over in the right corner on 54 minutes for Scotland's first try of the tournament.
Laidlaw missed the chance to level the scores when his conversion attempt drifted wide but Scotland moved in front for the first time with another Dunbar try on 67 minutes, which Weir successfully converted.
The lead lasted just two minutes, however, as Joshua Furno crossed over in the corner for his first try for Italy, with replacement Luciano Orquera slotting over the conversion to open up a 20-18 lead.
However, Weir broke the home side's hearts with his drop goal effort to secure the narrowest of wins.
Defeat left Italy winless through three rounds, while Scotland earned some redemption in rebounding from a 20-0 home loss to England, regarded as one of their worst displays ever.
"It's all a big blur to be honest," Weir said.
"You just have to go back to basics, get your ball drop right, and I managed to execute it. It's a great feeling and I am delighted for the boys we have come away with the win. We can kick on from here now."