A young England side turned up aiming for a Grand Slam, and instead felt the backlash as Ireland put that Wales try behind them in spectacular fashion!
The Ireland scrum took apart England and a back row of Sean O’Brien, David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip ripped into the breakdown, carrying with intensity that Englands youngsters could not match. Tommy Bowe, Keith Earl and Andrew Trimble looked dangerous every time the back three entered the attacking line.
Ireland took the lead early on as Sexton, back in over O’Gara at fly-half struck a penalty after the visitors were offside at the line-out. Doubling this lead when Chris Ashton was penalised for a high tackle on Sexton who duly converted for his second.
Turning over possession by preventing the England carriers getting to the ground and playing with pace and width were the order of the day.
What looked a great try was ruled forward with Tommy Bowe’s final pass to O’Driscoll, which would have taken O’Driscoll over the threshold and into the top try-scorer in the history of the Five and Six Nations. However Ireland had been awarded an advantage and promptly let Sexton take them 9 points ahead of a scoreless England in the first quarter.
England replaced an injured Tom Palmer with Simon Shaw but still didn’t seem to register in attack, they finally earned a kickable penalty only for Flood to kick it badly wide. This mistake was compounded as Ben Foden was forced into a desperate defensive kick and Heaslip carried back.
An entire England defence was off-side and Sexton tapped another penalty to commit the defence before sending Bowe over the line. Sexton missed the conversion but with half an hour gone England never looked like going near the grand slam!
Finally England registered on the board with a Flood penalty, only to see a bad half get worse with Ben Youngs sin-binned after conceding a silly penalty at a scrum, when David Wallace charged down the line Youngs edged him into touch and then threw the ball into the crowd. Ten minutes rest for him.
Sexton wasn’t about to miss again, and Ireland were 17-3 up at half time.
It took just seven minutes into the second half before O’Driscoll got his record breaking 25th-try after sweeping move saw him round Louis Deacon in the corner. Fields of Athenry were silenced just long enough for Sexton to drive over the conversion and make it 24-3
Replacement hooker Steve Thompson intercepted a Reddan pass and scampered over from 40m out, but Wilkinson could not convert. As the game continued England had increasing possession but could not score and their Grand Slam hopes slowly disappeared.