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6 Nations

England Outclass Lacklustre Ireland

Ireland lacked a cutting edge as England stake their claim for the 6 Nations

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ireland seemed short of ideas as England ran out 32-20 winners at the Aviva Stadium, on Saturday evening.

The visitors were the better team without a doubt but had their fair amount of fortune to gain the win.

They came bursting out of the blocks, showing their intentions right from the off with a try within 90 seconds. After getting up to the Ireland 22, a few passes out wide, and a poor break from the line by Keith Earls and Jonny May was in at the corner.

Captain Owen Farrell added the extras as England led 7-0 after as little as two minutes.

Ireland came back at England over the next 20 minutes. Johnny Sexton slotted over a penalty after 11 minutes before Tom Curry was sin binned two minutes later for a late tackle on Earls.

By the 24th minute Ireland had the lead. They made a bold call with a penalty in front of the posts and deciding to go to touch.

The risk paid off with James Ryan taking the line-out, leading to a few phases ending with Cian Healy touching down. Sexton converted and it was 10-7.

On the half-hour mark disaster struck as Elliot Daly sent a grubber-kick through the Irish 22. Jacob Stockdale caught the bouncing ball initially before Jack Nowell caused him to fumble and Daly put down the loose ball.

Farrell sent the conversion between the posts and added a late penalty to leave the score at 17-10 to England at half-time.

The second-half started with Ireland improving slightly and were rewarded with 3-points after Kyle Sinckler tackled Garry Ringrose around the neck.

With only four points separating the two sides the game’s most controversial moment came in the 66th minute.

Following a scrum near halfway, England sent the ball out wide to Jonny May, who kicked ahead. Henry Slade won the foot race and was over for a try.

Referee Jerome Garces went to the TMO to see if Slade was ahead of the kicker, and to many he was, however, Garces awarded the try. Farrell missed the conversion, but Irish fans were left fuming at the decision by Garces which took the game away from the home side.

Farrell added another penalty with 10 minutes remaining to stretch the lead out to 25-13.

Five minutes later and the bonus-point was wrapped up. Ireland tried to build from their own line, but a rushed pass by Sexton handed Henry Slade a chance which he took brilliantly, intercepting and sliding over the white-wash.

The conversion was tapped over and the game as a contest was certainly finished.

Ireland’s John Cooney came on for his debut in place of uncharacteristic Conor Murray and got his reward with a try in the final minute. Sexton sent over the conversion but that was the end as the game finished 32-20 to the visitors.

The defeat was Ireland’s first home loss in the 6 Nations under Joe Schmidt and he showed his disappointment post-match.

“It’s a tough one to take,” he said.

He also played down the significance of the defeat saying it was just two high class team with small differences settling the game.

“It was two really big teams and one winning fine margins and one not,” he added.

Man of the match Mako Vunipola admitted his pride in gaining a first win against their rivals.

“It’s nice to get one over them,” he said when asked how the win on Irish soil felt.

The loss has ended Ireland’s hopes of landing back to back Grand Slam titles as many had predicted and has lifted England’s chances of claiming their 2017 title back.

England will be looking to build on this impressive win when they host France next Sunday.

While Ireland will have to improve greatly before heading to Murrayfield to face a high-flying Scotland side on Saturday.

6 Nations

Paul O’Connell Joins Ireland Coaching Group

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Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Former Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has joined the Ireland national coaching group as forwards coach with Simon Easterby to focus on defence.

Paul was capped 108 times by Ireland and captained the team to Six Nations success in 2014.  O’Connell’s distinguished playing career also included seven Test match appearances for the British & Ireland Lions across three tours and two Heineken Cup titles with Munster.

Since retiring from playing in 2015, Paul has held coaching positions with the Munster Academy, Ireland Under-20s and Top 14 side Stade Francais.

O’Connell commented:

“I am really looking forward to working with Andy and the rest of the coaching group. I worked with Simon as a player and am looking forward to working with him again. It’s an exciting young group of players to be involved with and there are talented forwards coming through across the four provinces that will no doubt be pushing for international selection in the coming months and years.”

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell commented:

“Paul brings a wealth of rugby knowledge with him and as forwards coach he will have responsibility for the forwards including the line-out working alongside John (Fogarty). He will also be another strong voice and leader within the group.

“Simon (Easterby) has a real passion for defence and having developed Ireland’s forward play over the past six years with the additional responsibility for the defence over the past 12 months, he will now be able to focus his energy and rugby intellect on this area of our game.

“The weekend’s Interpro games and the European fixtures in the weeks ahead will give players the opportunity to push for selection for the Six Nations squad. The squad will not be selected until after the Champions Cup Round 4 fixtures have been completed.”

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, commented: “Paul is a young Irish coach with a huge amount of international rugby experience. We have been keen to find the right opportunity for him within Irish Rugby and we think the fit with the national squad will work well. He joins the national coaching group with immediate effect as they prepare for the upcoming Six Nations Championship.”

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6 Nations

Scotland name strong team for Wales

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Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Issued by SRU

Stuart Hogg will return to the Scotland starting line-up as Captain for the final round of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations against Wales on Saturday 31 October – kick-off 2:15pm.

Fresh from securing the European and Premiership double with his club Exeter Chiefs, Hogg plays at full back as one of five changes to the starting XV from the Scotland side that defeated Georgia 48-7 last week.

Finn Russell lines up at fly-half after winning his 50th Scotland cap in the Georgia victory at BT Murrayfield on Friday night, and is joined in the half-backs by Glasgow Warriors’ Ali Price.

In the back division, Blair Kinghorn shifts to the wing from full-back and replaces Edinburgh teammate Duhan van de Merwe, who is named among the replacements. James Lang and Chris Harris continue their centre partnership after playing together against Georgia.

In the pack fellow Exeter Chief Jonny Gray comes into the second row and Scarlets’ Blade Thomson is selected at number 8 and will run out on his club ground on Saturday in Llanelli.Hooker Fraser Brown is named as Vice-Captain and packs down with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson in an unchanged front row.

Scott Cummings also retains his starting place to partner Gray in the second row.Edinburgh pair Jamie Ritchie, also a Vice Captain, and Hamish Watson make up the back-row with Thomson.

In the replacements Harlequins scrum-half Scott Steele could make his Scotland debut if called into action.

Adam Hastings and van de Merwe complete the backline replacements. Townsend can also call upon the same front row of Oli Kebble, Stuart McInally and Simon Berghan as featured in against Georgia, alongside Worcester Warrior Cornell du Preez and Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis from the bench.

“As a group we are very much looking forward to finally completing our fixture against Wales and returning to play Guinness Six Nations rugby again. We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend

“It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks. We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.

“We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli. Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”

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6 Nations

Wales XV announced for 6 Nations finale v Scotland.

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Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will become rugby’s most capped international on Saturday when he makes his 149th test appearance (140th for Wales plus 9 British & Irish Lions caps).

Jones levelled the record last weekend but will take the honour for himself at Parc y Scarlets this weekend as Wales face Scotland in their re-arranged Guinness Six Nations finale (14.15 KO BBC & S4C).

At the other end of the international spectrum, Cardiff Blues back-row Shane Lewis-Hughes will make his first test appearance for Wales in a back-row alongside experienced Lions duo Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Will Rowlands, fresh from the English Premiership Final with Wasps, comes into the side to make his first start for Wales and he packs down alongside captain Jones.

European Champion and English Premiership winner Tomas Francis comes into the front-row alongside Rhys Carre and Ryan Elias.

In the backline Gareth Davies partners Dan Biggar with Owen Watkin coming into the midfield alongside Jonathan Davies.

Liam Williams returns to the back-three to feature alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny.

On the bench Sam Parry, Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis provide the front-row replacements with Cory Hill and James Davies completing the forward contingent. Lloyd Williams comes straight into the matchday squad and provides backline cover along with Rhys Patchell and Nick Tompkins.

Issued by WRU

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