Rampant England thrash Ireland to lay down World Cup marker
26 August, 2019, 6:30 am
LONDON (Reuters) – England delivered a command performance to delight a sun-drenched Twickenham on Saturday as they ran in eight tries in a record 57-15 rout of Ireland in a World Cup warm-up that would have had their coach Eddie Jones drooling.
After an early wobble England took total control, delivering the sort of ambitious, high-speed all-court game that has been on show only in fits and starts over the last two years.
All Jones’s selections came off, with Owen Farrell converting six of the tries and landing an early penalty from inside centre.
The only downside for the hosts was the short-lived appearance of prop Mako Vunipola, who lasted only a few minutes as a replacement on his return from a serious hamstring injury.
England, coming into the game after a win and a defeat against Wales, were sharper in every regard against an Ireland team who looked rusty and disorganised, albeit somewhat earlier into their World Cup preparations.
It was England’s highest score and biggest margin of victory over Ireland and they were not flattered by it.
Jones said he had picked a team to pass the ball and play at pace and the men on duty duly delivered.
Ireland got the first try when Jordan Larmour chased a Jacob Stockdale chip after nine minutes, but from then on it was virtually all England.
Big winger Joe Cokanasiga got their first try, finishing off a quickfire backline move, and fullback Elliot Daly added the second after another super move with forwards and backs all showing great hands and attacking intent.
The Twickenham fans were enjoying it and they were in full voice when Manu Tuilagi got the third off the back of an impressive scrum – albeit via loose Irish defending.
Prop Kyle Sinckler and flanker Sam Underhill then combined like a pair of centres to send Tom Curry between the posts.
Ireland briefly lost key scrumhalf Conor Murray, but just as he came back from injury, prop Cian Healy limped off for the day.
With flyhalf Johnny Sexton absent due to a minor injury and his replacement Ross Byrne pushed off his game by England’s rush defence, Ireland were looking rudderless and they seemed delighted to get off the field 22-10 down at halftime.
The one-way traffic continued after the break, however, as locks Maro Itoje and George Kruis both powered over the line.
Cokanasiga got his second with a bullocking run after another superbly executed set-piece move.
Both coaches emptied their benches and as the game became somewhat chaotic, Bundee Aki skinned Daly for Ireland’s second try, only for replacement hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie to cash in on a terrible Irish lineout to take the score into record margins.
England complete their build-up against Italy on Sept. 6 and start their World Cup campaign against Tonga. France and Argentina, who await them later in the group phase, will not have enjoyed Saturday’s performance.
“We are still building. There is a lot left in us and we are still looking forward to playing our best rugby,” said Farrell. “It was definitely fun. I love it every time I put this jersey on.”
Ireland, who in theory could have topped the world rankings with a victory, now have back-to-back games against Wales to complete their preparations for Japan, where they will have to hit the ground running against Scotland.
“We can be a lot better and we have to be a lot better,” said Ireland captain Rory Best.
“That is not up to the standard that we set ourselves. It is hard to describe it without using a lot of profanity. It will not be pleasant viewing. We are nowhere near where we need to be the only upside is that it is the middle of August not the middle of September.”