Rugby Union

England enjoy warm up win against Ireland with World Cup looming

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As the World Cup looms, Ireland and England both have high hopes of success. And they go into game off the back of losses against Wales in Dublin and France in Paris respectively.

And it was the host nation England that came out the blocks quickest. After a series of strong carries from the England forwards, and patience from the backs, Ben Youngs sent a lovely loop miss pass to Johnny May who still had work to do. He smashed through the tackle of Tommy Bowe to score within three minutes, and George Ford added the conversion.

It didn't take long for Ireland to reply, with try scorer May judged to illegally touch Jonny Sexton in the air. Sexton just about slotted over the three points from just past the ten metre line, with a little help from the crossbar.

England continued to dominate up front, with the forwards winning those early battles easily. This gave the backs a platform, and a cute little cross field kick from George Ford was won in the air by Anthony Watson, who simply had to fall over the line for England's second try. Ford failed to add the conversion.

Conor Murray suffered a concussion and unsurprisingly he was not risked by Joe Schmidt, as such a key player for Ireland's World Cup campaign. He was replaced by Eoin Reddan midway through the first half.

England were on fire and this was epitomised by the first 25 minute performance from Johnny May, who thought he had scored his second try of the game. Referee Nigel Owens and his assistants had other ideas, judging the last pass from Tom Youngs to be forward, much to the displeasure of the Twickenham crowd. The score remained 12-3.

As Ireland started to build a bit of pressure in England's half, nothing was going right. The ball was going to ground and they were throwing passes to English players. And England were able to deal with every wave of Irish attack with relative ease, and then clear their lines to put the pressure back on the men in green. And Ireland continued to drop the ball and give possession back to England.

Ireland had the chance in the dying seconds to take a very respectable score line going into the break, but a promising move was squandered by Sean O'Brien with another simple handling error right in front of the posts.

Strong performances

The story of the first half was the fluidity of the half backs Youngs and Ford, they made England tick, dictating the play with and without ball in hand. England went in with a 12-3 lead but it could and arguably should have been much worse for Ireland.

England were out the blocks equally as quick in the second half, and with the first penalty, Robshaw pointed to the posts, and Ford replicated Sexton's first half penalty with a bit of help from the cross bar.

If Schmidt wanted an answer from his players, they began to look like the team we know they are. Straight after the penalty, they enjoyed a series of good, promising attacks and were rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts. And Sexton could have sunk it blindfolded, 15-6 with half an hour left to play.

And just like that, Ireland were back in the game. A 50 metre turnover started by Jamie Heaslip, set up an attacking line out on the English 5 metre line. A lovely move, straight from the training ground, saw captain Paul O'Connell crash over and Sexton followed up with the conversion, and at 15-13 it was game on.

There was a quiet 10 or 15 minute period, followed by chances at either end and England had another try disallowed following a great piece of defence from substitute hooker Richardt Strauss to hold up Richard Wigglesworth and yet again Ireland were off the hook.

Must win

England were awarded a penalty when Ireland were caught offside at the breakdown and replacement Owen Farrell stepped up and made it 18-13 with seven minutes to play.

With five minutes to play, they had no choice but to be ambitious and play from their own 22, and some excellent work from Billy Vunipola at the breakdown saw England awarded a penalty. Farrell yet again gave England another three points, and game over at 21-13.

A bit of icing on the cake for England a monstrous hit from Sam Burgess leaving a physical and mental dent in Ian Madigan. A good win for England three weeks before their opener against Fiji, particular notable performances came from Ben Youngs, George Ford, Brad Barritt and Johnny May. Chris Robshaw with one of his best performances as captain and Tom Wood deserving of his man of the match award.

For Ireland, they need not panic. They have a nice group and have 5 weeks before their showdown with France, and the second half performance will be pleasing for Joe Schmidt.

Have England showed they are good enough to win the World Cup?

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Ireland Rugby
Rugby Union
England Rugby
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