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English ruggers put hurtin’ on Irish

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Mark Jones

DUBLIN — After all the pre-match hype and expectation, Ireland flopped in their crunch rugby Five Nations game against England at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.

A 27-15 result, with England’s second try coming in injury time, mightn’t have seemed like a comprehensive defeat on the scoreboard, but in reality, the Irish came in a poor second.

In a match that failed to live up to its billing, England were better organized and made fewer mistakes to claim a fully deserved victory, which puts them in line both for the championship and the Triple Crown.

Wales’ shock 34-33 victory against France in Paris now makes the English even stronger favorites for the season’s honors.

Ireland had come into the game full of confidence after beating Wales at Wembley. However, right from the start, there were signs that this wasn’t to be their day. The team’s talisman, Keith Wood, was an anonymous figure, and the expected challenge of the highly rated Irish forwards never materialized.

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In fact, Ireland struggled at the line-outs, where Wood’s throwing was poor, and the scrum wasn’t solid enough to give No. 8 Victor Costello the opportunity to run at the opposing midfield.

With the usual reliable Andy Ward also off-form, it was remarkable that the Irish managed to stay in contention for as long as they did. Some dogged defense did the trick, but England were always in control scoring tries in each half by Matt Perry and Tim Rodber.

The occasional Irish attack was immediately stifled by some aggressive tackling and all the home team’s points came from the boot of David Humphreys’ who was one of only a few players to emerge with credit.

Ireland now go to Edinburgh on Saturday week for a difficult assignment against the Scots. The Irish haven’t won in Edinburgh since 1985 and they haven’t beaten Scotland anywhere since 1988. Another defeat could mean yet another wooden spoon in a season which at one stage promised so much.

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