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Six Nations: England beat Ireland to blow Championship wide open
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England ended Ireland's bid for a Six Nations Triple Crown with a 13-10 victory in an enthralling contest at Twickenham.
In probably the Championship's most high-intensity game to date, Ireland led 10-3 after Rob Kearney's try in the first minute of the second half and a conversion and penalty from Jonathan Sexton.
That was in reply to Owen Farrell's 24th-minute penalty - the only points of the first half.
But Farrell's penalty and then a superbly worked try for Danny Care - converted by Farrell - earned England the win which means four teams are locked on two wins apiece after three rounds of the Six Nations.
England, Ireland, France and Wales remain in contention for the title with Twickenham hosting Warren Gatland's defending champions next on March 9.
After a spell of concerted pressure, Jonny May should have given England an early lead only for the Gloucester wing to drop the ball over the line under pressure from a double tackle from Andrew Trimble and Conor Murray.
A breathless first quarter continued to unfold at breakneck speed and now it was Ireland who poured forward, twice going inches close through Andrew Trimble after quick hands in the backs.
An impressive start from the Irish gave way to a renewed attack from England, although their efforts lacked the imagination and skill displayed by their opponents.
Farrell conceded a penalty for a late tackle on Murray as the move died out, but once that had been defended the Saracens fly-half landed the first points of the match in the 23rd minute.
The frantic pace finally slowed in the second quarter, but Ireland were still looking to put as much speed on the ball as possible when they attacked.
Seizing the opportunity to drain the stamina of tighthead David Wilson, who has been limited to just 47 minutes of rugby in two months because of a calf injury, they opted for a series of scrums.
Having attempted to soften up England at the set piece, they probed out wide on the left on two occasions, but the defence to keep Dave Kearney wrapped up was superb.
Farrell struck the left post with a second penalty attempt before England suffered a damaging blow when Billy Vunipola fell awkwardly on his right ankle and had to be replaced by Ben Morgan.
Captain Chris Robshaw made a brave call with a minute of the first half remaining, opting for touch instead of taking a long-range shot at goal and the gamble failed when Luther Burrell knocked on.
Just 82 seconds after the interval Ireland raced ahead when Jamie Heaslip sent Rob Kearney darting through a hole at the breakdown on the 22 and the Leinster full-back easily evaded Brown.
Sexton converted and added a penalty, but the deficit was slashed to four points by Farrell following a great passage of play from the hosts that almost saw Burrell squeeze over.
The pivotal moment arrived 16 minutes into the second half with an outstanding try launched by Robshaw's break through the midfield.
Robshaw fed Harlequins team-mate Brown and just as the full-back was hauled down, Care took his pass and raced in under the posts, with Farrell converting.
England needed to call on their depths of character as they repelled a driving maul that showed Ireland were far from finished as an attacking force.
Dave Kearney tripped as Ireland staged one final attack and once more the home defence held firm to keep their own Triple Crown hopes alive.
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|RBS Six Nations|
|Friday 6th February|
|RBS Six Nations|
|20:05||Wales vs England|
|Saturday 7th February|
|14:30||Italy vs Ireland|
|17:00||France vs Scotland|
|Saturday 14th February|
|14:30||England vs Italy|
|17:00||Ireland vs France|
|Sunday 15th February|
|15:00||Scotland vs Wales|
|Saturday 28th February|
|14:30||Scotland vs Italy|
|17:00||France vs Wales|
|Sunday 1st March|
|15:00||Ireland vs England|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com