ENGLAND 13 IRELAND 10
Danny Care’s snapshot score denied Ireland the Triple Crown and dreams of a first Grand Slam since 2009 as England triumphed 13-10 to ruin Brian O’Driscoll’s Twickenham farewell.
Rob Kearney’s try straight after half-time edged Ireland into a 10-3 lead, but England blasted straight back through Care’s score and clung on for their second victory of the RBS 6 Nations campaign.
England’s win set up a four-way fight for the title, with Stuart Lancaster’s men, Ireland, Wales and France all suffering one defeat in the tournament’s first three rounds.
Brian O’Driscoll equalled George Gregan’s world-record caps haul of 139 as he lined up for Ireland against England at Twickenham.
Ireland were chasing their first Triple Crown since their Grand Slam year of 2009, and aiming to avoid their fourth consecutive loss to England.
Stuart Lancaster’s home side were without neck injury victim Dan Cole, so Bath’s Davey Wilson started at tighthead prop after just 47 minutes of competitive rugby since returning from calf trouble.
Lancaster’s grind eclipsed Joe Schmidt’s tactical masterclass as England just about rebuffed Ireland’s meticulously-crafted attacking ploys.
Care’s try swept the tie straight back in England’s favour, but the hosts failed to force a breakthrough from their next attack.
Jack Nowell shanked a clearance straight into touch and that allowed Ireland to build the phases for just the second time in the half.
O’Driscoll and Sexton mistimed a simple run-around, though, wasting all that build-up with a simple knock-on.
But Ireland forced a turnover at the scrum to win a set-piece of their own on England’s 22.
Ireland used the scrum to work a chance to set their maul, gaining an early drive.
Crucially England managed to shut down the shove, though, and win a vital turnover.
And when Conor Murray threw away possession from a loose blind pass off another maul, Ireland’s challenge was all but at an end.
Ireland finally caught England out with one of those Joe Schmidt-inspired plays straight after half-time.
Jamie Heaslip played static fly-half, while his team-mates cut dummy runs all around.
The number eight stood his ground and delayed just long enough for full-back Kearney’s perfectly-timed arrival - and the Leinster 15 soared under the posts, bisecting the statuesque Joe Launchbury and Davey Wilson.
Sexton converted to hand Ireland a four-point advantage.
Suddenly the tactics that failed to bear fruit in the first half were all coming good for Ireland.
Sexton chipped in behind May after a quick-tap penalty, the Gloucester wing failed to clear and from the driven line-out Ireland claimed a penalty.
Sexton landed the goal to send Ireland 10-3 ahead.
England rallied, May bisecting the midfield, Farrell cutting a neat break and Danny Care’s trademark tap-penalty forcing a drive to the whitewash from Luther Burrell.
Rory Best conceded a penalty under the posts and Farrell slotted his second goal of the game, to cut their deficit to just four points.
Sexton over-hit the restart straight into touch, gifting England an attacking scrum platform they did not waste.
Brown raced through the centre from Robshaw’s offload, setting Care free to hare under the sticks for the hosts’ first try.
Farrell’s conversion put England into a 13-10 lead.