Six Nations: Ireland 24-8 England as it happened
with Conor Heneghan
Ireland 24-8 England
We knew there was a performance in Ireland, but not many would have predicted the tour de force that Declan Kidney's side delivered today. Absolutely magnificent stuff by Ireland, who not only denied England a Grand Slam, but must feel redeemed by that display, which will completely change their mindset going into their next competitive game, which just happens to be the World Cup.
Hard to pick out a weakness on the home side, everybody delivered, from Mike Ross and Rory Best in the front row, to Keith Earls and Tommy Bowe in the back three. Not the Six Nations we would have hoped for, but by God, it was finished on a high. That's all from me for today, thanks for tuning in.
It's all over!
Ironic cheers greet the sight of Martin Johnson's face on the big screen. Payback for 2003 perhaps?
Brilliant break by Keith Earls in the middle of the pitch and Ireland are in the English 22 once more. Eventually knocked forward close to the English line after a typically barnstorming run by Sean O'Brien. Declan Kidney empties the bench and the Irish players come off the pitch with big wide smiles on their faces. Great to see.
Jonny Sexton has been named as the man of the match and deservedly so. Will be a big boost to his confidence given what he's been through in the tournament so far.
Six minutes to go at the Aviva and surely Ireland are going to hold on at this stage. On RTE, Ryle Nugent asks Tony Ward for his man of the match candidates and to be honest, there's quite a few in a green jersey today.
FIGHT! Chris Ashton isn't happy that Ronan O'Gara continued to fight for the ball on the ground after the whistle and squares up to ROG for a bout of handbags. Can't help but think that O'Gara knew well what he was doing, stupid on Ashton's behalf really.
ROG's first contribution is to pin England back with a delightful kick off the outside of his boot. Delightful to watch. David Wallace makes way for Denis Leamy.
Sexton, who had been suffering with what looked like a back injury, makes way for Ronan O'Gara, who greets Sexton with an embrace on his way on to the field. Sexton is given a rapturous reception from the crowd and rightly so, he's been magnificent today.
England make a mess of the lineout and Ireland clear the ball deep down the field. Wilkinson clears the ball but Ireland are on the front foot once more.
Ireland turn the ball over after England win possession from the lineout amd eventually clear through O'Driscloo, who doesn't get a lot of distance and England have a lineout on Ireland's 22.
Game has become very, very scrappy in the last ten minutes. The expected late surge by England following their try has not yet materialised. There's still time though and Jonny Wilkinson pins in Ireland with a penalty kick that will give England a lineout right on the Irish line.
Only Court introduced from the bench so far, looks like Sexton is going to finish the game at out-half.
Rain starts to fall at the Aviva and things are getting very scrappy at scrumtime. Ireland won't mind, though, as the clock continues to wind down. Just over 15 minutes to go.
Very scrappy stuff all round. Ireland turn over the ball after multiple phases of going nowhere in particular and then England knock the ball on while threatening on the counter. Tom Court comes in for Mike Ross, who has delivered yet another very solid performance.
How about that for an introduction. Only seconds after coming on, Steve Thompson intercepts a telegraphed Eoin Reddan pass from a lineout and the veteran hooker shows impressive pace to dart over the line. Mark the wall though, because Wilkinson misses a very easy conversion by his high standards. Vital that Ireland don't let up with more than 25 minutes to go.
TRY ENGLAND STEVE THOMPSON
England almost respond immediately to Ireland's try through the swan-diving Chris Ashton, but he is badly lacking in support and Gordon D'Arcy comes back to cover. Martin Johnson empties the bench as old guards Wilkinson and Thompson come into the fray.
He was denied early on, but Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll becomes the highest try scorer in championship history as he goes over in the corner after scooping up a dirty ball that was fumbled by Donncha O'Callaghan close to the English line. It all originated from a stolen lineout, numerous phases within the English 22 before O'Driscoll applied the coup de grace. Brilliant once more from Ireland and Sexton adds the extras to make it even better.
TRY IRELAND BRIAN O'DRISCOLL
Brian O'Driscoll takes the wrong option and tries to go down the blindside where there was simply no room. England with the lineout on their own five metre line. Ben Youngs' time in the bin is over, but he has been replaced by Danny Care at scrum half for England.
Dirty ball from the lineout, but Ireland maintain possession and eventually win a scrum in the middle of the pitch ten metres out from the English line.
Ireland start the second half as they finished the first with Bowe and Earls making magnificent breaks, eventually forcing England to concede a lineout on their own five metre line.
Back underway at the Aviva.
Well, this is as well as Ireland played in quite a long time. It's almost as if they were willing to sacrifice their previous performances in the competition for one big display, they are absolutely dominant at the Aviva.
The intent from Ireland is there for all to see and they are not giving their opponents an inch. If anything, they deserve to be in front by way more than 14 points. Very refreshing to see and finally, rather than bitching and moaning about errors and penalty counts, we have something to shout about when it comes to the Irish rugby team.
Another 40 minutes of this will do nicely, thank you very much.
Wallace nearly in again in the corner, but Paul O'Connell had knocked on in the build up and play is called back for an England scrum. Martin Johnson's side are rattled and will be praying for the sanctuary of the dressing room at half time.
Ireland so close to a second try. David Wallace steals the ball after Bowe put Foden under pressure from a Sexton garryowen and nearly gets in in the corner, only to be forced out over the touchline within touching distance of the tryline. Having carried the ball over the line, Ben Youngs is given a yellow card for throwing the ball away and preventing Ireland from taking a quick throw. Sexton adds insult to injury with the resulting penalty and Ireland increase their lead.
Flood gets England on the scoreboard with a far more difficult penalty than the one he missed minutes ago. 14-3 Ireland.
Unfortunately, Sexton can't add the extras.
Nothing wrong with that one! From the restart O'Connell and O'Callaghan kick the ball on and force Foden into a last gasp clearance. England concede the penalty which Sexton takes quickly with a quick tap before releasing Bowe in the corner. One of the deadliest finishers in the northern hemisphere cuts inside and touches down to give Ireland a commanding 14-point lead.
TRY IRELAND (TOMMY BOWE)
Which he misses! Ireland remain 9-0 in front.
Sean O'Brien off his feet and Toby Flood has a quite simple chance to put the first points on the board for England...
Ireland are in complete control of this game at the moment. It's a pity a try didn't come out of that move as there some brilliant rugby played, firstly when Heaslip made the break and offloaded the ball to Bowe and then when the ball was spread wide to O'Driscoll, but the touch judge made the call and looking at the replay, it was probably the right call.
Sexton taps over the penalty to put nine in front, but it could have easily been four more points. Pity.
TRY DISALLOWED. There was a forward pass somewhere in the build-up, probably the last one from Bowe to O'Driscoll on the wing, but play has been called back for a penalty.
TRY IRELAND BRIAN O'DRISCOLL!
There's definitely a bit of needle between the two teams, words are being had once the game is stopped and there's a little bit of pushing and shoving going on as well. Ireland certainly getting the message out that they are not going to be messed with.
Sexton and Ashton shared words after that kick, but Donncha O'Callaghan steps in to sort it all out. Once again, brilliant defence from Ireland as O'Callaghan and Healy force the turnover to snuff out the latest English attack.
Once again, Sexton has little difficulty and Ireland go six points in front, fully deserved after an excellent start.
Ashton nails Sexton with a high tackle well inside England's 22 and Ireland win the penalty as a result. It's not far away from the left touchline, but if Sexton hits it as confidently as he did the first one, he should have no problems.
Ireland well on top in the last few minutes, but have been let down by two knock-ons in promising positions. After good starts in nearly every game so far, Ireland have been let down by easing up after, so hopefully it's not the case today.
Straight down the middle from the out half and Ireland are three points to the good. Sexton absolutely belted that one, it's only been five minutes in but he's started well.
Penalty to Ireland with England offside after Heaslip claims lineout and sets up an attack. Well within range for Sexton, hopefully he can knock it over and give himself a confidence boost.
Lovely break by Earls after risky quick penalty by Sexton releases the Munster man down the left. Dodgy Foden clearance gives Ireland a lineout in the English 22, but Ireland fail to claim it. Cracking start at the Aviva.
England on the offensive early after Matt Banahan claims kick off. Ireland defend well, however, and win the scrum after an England infringement. Excellent drive by the Irish pack and win the penalty. Encouraging signs.
We're underway at the Aviva. Flood kicks off for England. Ireland playing from right to left in the opening half.
Rumour had it that a sizeable English contingent had made their way to the Aviva for the game and judging by the reaction to God Save the Queen, it certainly seems to be the case. Good response to Amhran na bhFiann as well though, seats finally starting to be filled and we're nearly ready to go.
Ronan O'Gara getting in some kicking practise right up until England come out on to the pitch...Ireland out there now as well. No repeat of Johnson's antics eight years ago as teams line up on correct side of red carpet this time. I had been predicting an England win, but have changed my mind in the last half an hour or so, must be my patriotism kicking in. Ireland by a score.
Hard to believe Ireland have lost only two of the last seven Six Nations games against England - in 2008 before Eddie O'Sullivan was turfed out the door and way back in 2003 when England won the Grand Slam at Lansdowne Road after 'Johnson-gate'. A lot more optimism in the studio about today's game than there was before Wales last week. Pope and O'Shea go for Ireland, Hook predictably for England. Players on their way out on to the pitch at the Aviva, although there are still a lot of empty seats.
Just realised I forgot to remind you of the teams. Well, here they are:
Ireland: Keith Earls, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan, Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip
Replacements: Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Leo Cullen, Denis Leamy, Peter Stringer, Ronan O’Gara, Paddy Wallace
England: Ben Foden; Chris Ashton, Matt Banahan, Shontayne Hape, Mark Cueto; Toby Flood, Ben Youngs; Alex Corbisiero, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole; Louis Deacon, Tom Palmer; Tom Wood, James Haskell, Nick Easter
Replacements: Steve Thompson, Paul Doran-Jones, Simon Shaw, Tom Croft, Danny Care, Jonny Wilkinson, David Strettle
Declan Kidney, as ever, manages to answer the pre-match questions without really saying anything at all. It's not often I agree with George Hook, but his response on the O'Gara/Sexton issue (I just wanted to give Jonny a start) suggests that he doesn't really know who his best out half is.
Hopefully, this evening can be a fitting end to what's been a cracking week of sport - Champions League, a record number of Irish wins at Cheltenham, two cracking club finals in GAA and Willie Big Bang Casey's world title fight yet to come. Brilliant.
JOE's rugby correspondent Conor Ward is less than impressed with the lack of build up to what is normally such a massive clash, and regrettably, he thinks England will be celebrating Grand Slam at around 7 o'clock this evening. Read what he had to say here.
Scotland have just beaten Italy 21-8 at Murrayfield and condemned the Italians to the wooden spoon in the process. Seems a bit harsh considering what Italy have brought to this championship. They were desperately unlucky not to win against both Ireland and Wales and then had that magnificent victory over France. Definitely a team on the up and they will have no fear about facing Ireland in the Rugby World Cup later this year.
Good afternoon everybody and welcome to JOE's live coverage of Ireland v England at the Aviva Stadium. With no Triple Crown or Grand Slam at stake, it's been a disappointing campaign for Declan Kidney's men, but the chance to thwart England's Grand Slam ambitions means there will be no shortage of motivation in the Irish dressing room.
There's no doubting that England have been the form team in the competition, but there remains a feeling, certainly on paper, that Ireland are more than a match for Martin Johnson's men and are well capable of doing a number on them today.
With the lights on and people probably still in party mode following St. Patrick's Day, there should be cracking atmosphere at the Aviva. Just under an hour to go until kick off. I'll be back with the teams very shortly.