IRELAND 19 ENGLAND 9
Ireland kept their Grand Slam hopes alive by making it three wins out of three with a dominant display over England at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Joe Schmidt’s side were superior in every facet of the game limiting England to just three penalties although the victory came at a price with Sean O’Brien, Johnny Sexton and Jared Payne all having to left the pitch with injuries.
O’Brien will follow head injury protocols after a head to head collision on 25 minutes, while Sexton was withdrawn as a precaution with his hamstring starting to give him some concern.
Ireland got the prefect start with Sexton slotting over a penalty on two minutes.
Ulster hooker Rory Best nearly increased the lead but he was held up over the line on six minutes but from the resulting scrum Ireland forced a penalty and Sexton doubled the advantage from close range.
England registered their first points on 11 minutes with a drop goal from out half George Ford following a series of drives from the forwards.
Ireland had a lucky escape on 17 minutes when Ford made bad contact with a penalty and it drifted wide.
Sexton added his third penalty on 29 minutes after he won a turnover in front of the English posts.
Ireland’s 100% goal kicking record in this year’s championship went when Sexton missed with a 34th minute penalty.
Rob Kearney was off target with a long range drop goal attempt three minutes after the restart but Sexton increased the home side’s lead with his fourth penalty on 47 minutes.
Ireland got the game’s opening try on 51 minutes, scrum half Connor Murray put up and hanging kick and centre Robbie Henshaw beat Alex Goode in the air to catch and touch down and Sexton added the conversion from a tight angle.
Ford landed his second penalty on 58 minutes after were guilty of collapsing a scrum.
Ford reduced Ireland’s lead to 10 points with his third penalty on 67 minutes and Ireland’s defence was able to close out the game.
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster), T Bowe (Ulster), J Payne (Ulster), R Henshaw (Connacht), S Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Racing Metro), C Murray (Munster); J McGrath (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D Toner (Leinster), P O’Connell (Munster, capt), P O’Mahony (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), J Murphy (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), for Best 72 C Healy (Leinster), for McGrath 58, M Moore (Leinster) for Ross 57, I Henderson (Ulster) for Toner 64 T O’Donnell (Munster) for O’Brien 25, E Reddan (Leinster), I Madigan (Leinster) for Sexton 54, F Jones (Munster) for Payne 70
England: A Goode (Saracens); A Watson (Bath), J Joseph (Bath), L Burrell (Northampton), J Nowell (Exeter); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton), D Cole (Leicester), D Attwood (Bath), G Kruis (Saracens), J Haskell (Wasps), C Robshaw (Harlequins, capt), B Vunipola (Saracens).
Replacements: T Youngs (Leicester) for Hartley 53, M Vunipola (Saracens) for Marler 65, H Thomas (Bath) for Atwood 68, N Easter (Harlequins), T Croft (Leicester) for Haskell 61, R, Wigglesworth (Saracens), D Cipriani (Sale Sharks) for B Youngs 68 B Twelvetrees (Gloucester) for Joseph 68