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Published: 18:56 | 27/2/16

England see off brave Ireland

Home side win 21-10

England made it three wins from three in the RBS Six Nations as two tries in four second-half minutes helped them to a 21-10 victory over Ireland Twickenham.

Ireland led early in the second half after Conor Murray had scrambled over for the visitors' only try of the game before Anthony Watson and Mike Brown crossed in quick succession to put the game beyond Joe Schmidt's side.

Jonathan Sexton kicked a penalty and conversion as Ireland put in a much-improved display, while Owen Farrell slotted eleven points with the boot for Eddie Jones' side.

On a freezing cold west London evening Sexton landed an early penalty to put Ireland in front before Farrell replied in kind after CJ Stander was penalised for not rolling away.

England were enjoying plenty of possession and territorial dominance, but the Irish defence stood firm with huge tackles going in to prevent first Billy Vunipola and then Dylan Hartley from crossing.

Farrell was off target with a relatively simple penalty effort from in front of the posts, but made amends from distance as he finally put England ahead just after the half hour mark with his second penalty of the day after Ireland were penalised for not releasing in the ruck.

Ireland threatened briefly just before the break as centre Robbie Henshaw broke from midfield. The ball was moved wide, but Jamie Heaslip's attempted kick-through ended up in touch as a bruising first 40 minutes came to an end.

England had dominated but had just a three-point advantage to show for their considerable efforts, while Ireland had been guilty of coughing up possession on too many occasions.

Ireland started the second half well and after a series of bursts close to the England line, one of which saw flanker James Haskell yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle on Murray, the Munster scrum-half scrambled over in the corner after the English defence was caught napping after a line-out.

Sexton added the conversion from the touchline and suddenly, after spending most of the first period under the cosh, Ireland found themselves 10-6 to the good.

But they gifted England a soft penalty shortly afterwards when Devin Toner was penalised for taking a runner out without the ball and Farrell stepped up to coolly reduce the arrears to a single point with half an hour to play.

Watson put England back in front with their first try of the game on 58 minutes, finishing off a move which saw the ball moved quickly from one side of the field to the other before the winger was able to cross in the corner.

Farrell was unable to convert but, after withstanding a spirited Irish onslaught after the break, England had the lead once again.

Suddenly it was all England as some quick recycling allowed Brown to cross for the home side's second try in four minutes.

Farrell converted to make it 21-10 with just 17 minutes remaining.

Ireland were almost back in it within a minute as a superb Sexton break put Henshaw away in the corner, but Jack Nowell's last-gasp covering tackle forced the centre into touch within inches of the line.

Ireland showed great spirit as they looked to get back into the game and substitute Ultan Dillane, making his debut for his country, combined with Josh van der Flier to get within a yard of the England line.

Danny Care was yellow-carded for not allowing the ball to come back, but Ireland came again and it took another heroic tackle, this time from English debutant Elliot Daly, to prevent van der Flier from grounding the ball.

But, despite their huge efforts, they were unable to breach the English defence as the home side showed that they will be in the championship shake-up at the end of March as they secured a fine 21-10 victory, although Ireland can take plenty of heart from their display.

By: Kieran O'Daly

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