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Murray Kinsella reports from Twickenham
THIS WAS SUPPOSED to be about Joe Schmidt’s Ireland showing that they are ready to rebound from a disappointing 2019 Six Nations campaign.
Instead, they were hammered by a rampant England, conceding eight tries and delivering a performance that will leave supporters gravely worried about Ireland’s prospects at the World Cup in Japan.
Schmidt’s side missed an alarming 34 tackles in a deeply-concerning defensive effort, as they thoroughly failed to deal with England’s power and guile, while their attack created virtually nothing after an early try for Jordan Larmour.
Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
This, in short, was a humiliation and destruction in London as England set a new record winning margin over Ireland of 42, more than the previous 40 set in Dublin all the way back in 1997, as well as scoring more than 50 points against them for the first time ever.
In scorching 30-degree heat at Twickenham, Ireland also lose first-choice loosehead prop Cian Healy to a concerning ankle injury, while Conor Murray was replaced at half-time after undergoing and passing a HIA in the first half. Those two join Joey Carbery in the list marked ‘injury concerns.’
Ireland would have gone to number one in World Rugby’s rankings with a win here but they looked genuine miles off that standard on a day when there were no positives.
Captain Rory Best couldn’t find his jumpers in a shambolic lineout performance, while other key players such as CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Bundee Aki were largely anonymous. Out-half Ross Byrne began well on his first start for Ireland but faded off badly later in the game, while left wing Jacob Stockdale was error-prone.
Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Ireland started poorly, getting turned over, tackled into touch and throwing a forward pass in the opening minutes, helping England to draw first blood as Owen Farrell slotted three points after his pack won a scrum penalty.
But Schmidt’s men responded strongly as Rob Kearney showed some class, first offloading on a kick return and then throwing a floated right-to-left pass in the lead-up to a Jordan Larmour try.
The score stemmed from lock Iain Henderson turning over an English maul before Kearney found Stockdale on the left touchline, with the wing chipping over the head of the advancing Elliot Daly, whereafter
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