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Thirteen-man Ireland embarrass England

SIX NATIONS MATCH REPORT: Ireland, reduced to 13 men at the end, beat England 32-18 to end a run of four successive defeats by their opponents.


The win gave Christiaan Stander a perfect end to his Test career in the Six Nations match on Saturday.

The hosts had to play for the final 17 minutes with 14 men, when Bundee Aki was red-carded for a high tackle.

They were reduced to 13 men in the final five minutes, after Conor Murray was yellow-carded for a cynical foul.

However, they held on for their most impressive win since Andy Farrell took over as head coach following the 2019 World Cup.

* Miss any of the action? To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

Ireland finish above England, whose poor title defence has seen them lose to Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the same tournament for the first time since 1976.


Owen Farrell put England ahead with a penalty early on, Irish counterpart Johnny Sexton levelling affairs after Robbie Henshaw flattened Elliott Daly.

Ireland took the lead with a stunning solo try by Keith Earls, the veteran winger taking a knockdown from Jack Conan, but still with a lot of work to do.

He darted inside, beat Jonny May for pace and touched down for his 34th try in his 93rd Test, Sexton converting.

Farrell brought up 500 Six Nations points with a penalty but Sexton then added one of his own for 13-6 entering the final 10 minutes of the first-half.


Ireland put together arguably their most fluent attacking play of the tournament in stretching the English on both flanks in the lead-up to their second try.

No.8 Conan rumbled over for the try but it was effectively set up with a stunning catch by Hugo Keenan, beating Daly to the ball inside England’s 22 after Sexton’s up and under.

Sexton converted to make it 20-6 at half-time.

England ruined a great chance to hit back at Ireland at the start of the second-half.

Daly won a penalty but from the resulting line-out England were penalised for crossing.

Earls then touched down acrobatically from Sexton’s kick but it was ruled out due to a knock on by Cian Healy earlier in the move.

They did come away with an extra three as Sexton converted a penalty for 23-6.

The Irish roared on the hour mark as if they had won the match when they were awarded a penalty – a red-faced Tadhg Furlong bellowing like a banshee.

Sexton did not let the occasion go flat as he added another penalty.

However, the hosts joy turned to frustration when Aki got red carded, for the second time in his Test career, after his shoulder made contact with Billy Vunipola’s head.

Ironically Aki’s exit saw Peter O’Mahony come on for his first appearance after serving a three-match ban for a red card in the opening loss to Wales.

England took immediate advantage with Ben Youngs sniping over although Jacob Stockdale’s defence could be questioned.

Daly missed the conversion, but the flawless Sexton allayed Irish nerves with two penalties to make it 32-11.

The Irish went down to 13 men when the outstanding Conor Murray was sin-binned in the dying minutes.

But that came way too late for England even though May added a consolation try which was converted by Daly, leaving an emotional Stander embracing his Ireland teammates before an imminent return to his native South Africa.

Man of the match: Robbie Henshaw lit up the midfield for Ireland and Johnny Sexton was the conductor of a well-functioning orchestra. Our award goes to Ireland flank Josh van der Flier – who was beaten in the tackle count only by Christiaan Stander. Van der Flier also made a menace of himself at the breakdown.

Moment of the match: Two Ireland tries and six Johnny Sexton penalties gave us plenty to ponder. Our moment is the emotional scenes involving the retiring Christiaan Stander post-match – following his last appearance in the Emerald jersey.

Villains of the match: This goes to the match officials – as a collective – for some of their nonsensical decisions. How Mathieu Raynal and Romain Poite felt that Bundee Aki’s tackle deserved a red card, but Owen Farrell’s cheap shot was not says everything there is to say about the poor standard of match officials.

The scorers

For Ireland:
Tries: Earls, Conan
Cons: Sexton 2
Pens: Sexton 6

For England
Tries: Youngs, May
Con: Daly
Pens: Farrell 2

Red card: Bundee Aki (Ireland, 63 – foul play, high tackle)
Yellow card: Conor Murray (Ireland, 77 – cynical foul, offside)


Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan; 14 Keith Earls, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale; 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Conor Murray; 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 CJ Stander; 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Iain Henderson; 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Jack Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Jordan Larmour.

England: 15 Elliott Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Ollie Lawrence, 12 Owen Farrell (captain), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Charlie Ewels, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 George Martin, 23 Joe Marchant.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzere (France), Alex Ruiz (France)
TMO: Romain Poite (France)

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