England score two early tries to beat Ireland 21-13 at Twickenham
By Tony Tighe
Last Updated: 07/09/15 1:04pm
England will head into the World Cup on the back of a victory after two early tries paved the way to a 21-13 success over Ireland at Twickenham.
Wings Jonny May and Anthony Watson both crossed the whitewash in the opening 14 minutes as England punished poor Irish defending, and they were full value for their 12-3 half-time lead.
Despite being outplayed for long periods, Ireland reduced the deficit to two points when skipper Paul O'Connell powered over on 52 minutes, but they suffered a number of injuries to their backline which quashed their hopes of a comeback.
With their opening game against Fiji less than two weeks away, England burst out of the traps, with George Ford and Ben Youngs quickly finding their groove, and they crossed for the first try after only three minutes.
Youngs floated a pass out wide to May and the Gloucester wing punished poor defending from Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo to score his fifth international try. Ford nailed the touchline conversion.
Ireland replied with a Jonny Sexton penalty that crept over via the crossbar, but the visitors' defence was breached for a second time on 14 minutes after they failed to contain England's rolling maul.
Playing advantage, Ford fired a precise crossfield kick across to the right wing, where Watson beat Zebo in the air before touching down.
Ireland's day went from bad to worse when Conor Murray was forced off after taking a heavy blow to the head, and May was denied a second try after the TMO spotted a forward pass from Tom Youngs.
A late period of Irish pressure went unrewarded on the scoreboard as England led 12-3 at the interval.
Ford added a penalty on 47 minutes that also required the assistance of the crossbar but Ireland cut their deficit to two points with a five-minute purple patch.
Sexton kicked a penalty before a slick lineout move resulted in skipper O'Connell driving over from close range, Sexton adding the conversion to make it 15-13 with 52 minutes gone.
England emptied their bench around the hour mark and an offload from Sam Burgess almost resulted in a second try for May, while the TMO ruled out an effort from Richard Wigglesworth.
Ireland lost Sexton to cramp and Zebo and Robbie Henshaw also picked up knocks, forcing Chris Henry to take up an unfamiliar position on the wing for the final 10 minutes.
It halted Ireland's momentum as England finished the game strongly, with two Owen Farrell penalties securing victory.