Andy Farrell says ‘job done’ for gritty Ireland

Head coach Andy Farrell declared it “job done” after Ireland battled to a pulsating 32-15 win over 14-man England to keep alive their dreams of Guinness Six Nations glory.

By Ed Elliott
Sunday, 13th March 2022, 3:16 pm
Updated Sunday, 13th March 2022, 3:21 pm

Eddie Jones’ heroic hosts played almost the entire game a man down following the shock of losing Charlie Ewels to a red card inside 82 seconds.

The Irish raced into an 8-0 lead and looked destined to canter to victory but England rallied and provided a major scare by levelling at 15-15 early in the second period.

Tries from replacements Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham ultimately earned the error-prone visitors their biggest Twickenham win, adding to first-half scores from James Lowe and Hugo Keenan to secure a potentially crucial bonus point.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 12: Johnny Sexton of Ireland off loads the ball during the Guinness Six Nations Rugby match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on March 12, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Ireland complete the championship at home to Scotland this weekend, with their title challenge also reliant on England doing them a major favour against Grand Slam-chasing France in Paris.

“It was a crazy old game and Test matches are never perfect, that’s why they are called Test matches,” said Farrell.

“They are there to put you under pressure.

“The crowd were behind them, momentum was going their way and sometimes when you’ve got 14 men you’ve got nothing to lose; sometimes when you’ve got 15 men and you’re playing against 14 men you’ve got everything to lose.

“We became a little bit desperate at times, a little bit inaccurate at certain stages but having said all that you take the rough with the smooth and we came away with a brilliant victory in the end.

“It’s never going to be perfect. But we managed to find a way.

“We talked during the week about finding a way to get our supporters singing towards the end and we did that. We go home tonight to recover very happy. It’s job done and we move on to the next one.”

England’s courageous response to Ewels being dismissed after head-to-head contact with Ireland vice-captain James Ryan led to a raucous atmosphere in south-west London.

Ryan left the field and did not return but, according to Farrell, recovered sufficiently to join the post-match celebrations.

Captain Johnny Sexton, who booted 12 points across the afternoon, landed the resultant penalty, before Lowe’s opening score put the Irish in command and Keenan crossed just before the break to keep them on track.

Depleted England dominated the scrums and five penalties from fly-half Marcus Smith remarkably brought them level in an epic encounter before Ireland eventually surged away late on courtesy of Conan and Bealham.

Farrell was delighted with his players’ composure in testing circumstances.

He said: “(I’m) over the moon – if you’d said that to us (a bonus-point win) before the start of the game, we’d have snatched your hand off, wouldn’t we?

“I thought the lads were really calm whilst under a bit of pressure, stayed on task and thoroughly deserved that bonus point in the end.”