Ireland 32-18 England: Home side secure dominant Six Nations victory in Dublin
Ireland pick up Six Nations victory over England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin to round off an inconsistent 2021 championship on a high; Keith Earls and Jack Conan scored brilliantly-worked tries, with skipper Johnny Sexton adding 22 points via his boot
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 21/03/21 12:33am
Two sensational Ireland tries from Keith Earls and Jack Conan formed part of a superb display as Andy Farrell's charges dispatched England 32-18 in Dublin.
With neither side in title contention due to earlier defeats in the 2021 championship, both were playing for pride, and with an eye on potential British and Irish Lions selection for the summer series against South Africa.
In addition to the tries from Earls and Conan at the Aviva Stadium, Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton kicked flawlessly from the tee, landing both conversions and six penalties as England's discipline was poor again (14 penalties) - albeit under huge pressure from the home side.
The one negative for Farrell was a red card shown to Ireland centre Bundee Aki, who was dismissed with 14 minutes to go for connecting with the head of England's Billy Vunipola.
For England, Owen Farrell landed two penalties, while tries from Ben Youngs and Jonny May came with Ireland reduced to 14, and then 13 men with Conor Murray sin-binned late on for repeated team infringements.
Having lost at home to Scotland for the first time since 1983 and away to Wales already this year, defeat in Dublin meant England suffered losses to Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the same championship for the first time since 1976.
The first points arrived England's way nine minutes into the Test as Farrell bisected the posts with a penalty after Ireland had been penalised for an early drive at the lineout.
England continued to be on top in the opening quarter, but passed up a five-metre lineout and then five-metre attacking scrum opportunities without scoring as Ireland stood strong.
Ireland responded well thereafter, as strong defence and a kick-chase from Robbie Henshaw earned a breakdown penalty, from which Sexton levelled the game off the tee.
The home side then notched the opening try on 22 minutes courtesy of a stunning Earls finish after a well-worked lineout routine. No 8 Conan doing well to get above Tom Curry and find Earls, who then sprinted through and stepped May before scoring.
Sexton converted superbly from out wide for 10-3 but Farrell soon reduced the lead to 10-6, dispatching a penalty after Ireland were pinged for collapsing a maul.
A penalty against Mako Vunipola at the scrum for falling to his knee handed Sexton the chance to restore a seven-point advantage, and the Irish skipper did just that with a super strike.
Three minutes from the half, Ireland notched their second try in superb fashion after 23 phases as continuity in offloads, a wonderful Hugo Keenan high take and more quick ball paved the way for Conan to stretch and dive over.
Ireland thought they had a third try when Earls finished brilliantly again in the corner off a Sexton kick, but the score was ruled out for an earlier Cian Healy knock-on after a TMO review.
The attack had unfolded on a penalty advantage, however, allowing Ireland to go back and add three more points to the lead, extending it beyond two scores.
A powerful scrum against the head by Ireland saw them earn a vital scrum penalty deep in the England half just past the hour mark, from which Sexton tapped over for a huge 20-point lead.
With 14 minutes to go, Ireland centre Aki was shown a red card having connected with the head of England No 8 Vunipola with his shoulder in the tackle.
England immediately made the extra man count with scrum-half Youngs scoring in the corner following a maul drive, but full-back Elliot Daly failed to add the conversion with skipper Farrell off the park for a HIA.
Ireland responded well from the restart, though, as scrum-half Murray dictated play with Ireland maintaining possession across the pitch before England were pinged for failing to roll away. Sexton found the target via the post to leave England 18 points behind.
May then notched a second try for England in the closing stages when scrum-half Murray had been yellow carded, reducing Ireland to 13, but the home side kept possession from the restart before kicking off and clinching a marquee win.