Rugby League: A CROKE CHOKER; SIX NATIONS IRELAND 43 ENGLAND 13 Sorry England Humiliated as O'Gara Runs the Show in Dublin

The People (London, England), February 25, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Rugby League: A CROKE CHOKER; SIX NATIONS IRELAND 43 ENGLAND 13 Sorry England Humiliated as O'Gara Runs the Show in Dublin


Byline: Sam PETERS at Croke Park

ENGLAND'S Grand Slam hopes were torn up and thrown back in their face by a rampant Ireland yesterday.

Ronan O'Gara cut England to ribbons with a sensational kicking display.

Munster's fly-half booted 21 points with eight kicks from eight, and ran the show with a calm authority that England could not match.

Ireland scored four sublime tries through David Wallace, Shane Horgan, Girvan Dempsey and replacement Isaac Boss, as England were given a lesson in wet-weather rugby.

If the narrow win over Italy two weeks ago set the alarm bells ringing, this defeat has the sent the sirens blaring at full blast.

Jonny Wilkinson was included after a late fitness test but he was powerless to stop the Irish juggernaught running his side over and then reversing for good measure.

Croke Park provided a fitting backdrop for what was a magnificent Irish performance.

The security fears proved misplaced as the 82,500 capacity crowd behaved impeccably - especially during the potentially inflammatory singing of God Save the Queen at the ground where 14 Irish civilians were killed by the British Army in 1920.

England were never at the races as they conceded the highest points total in their Six Nations history.

England's victories over Scotland and Italy in their opening games have been put into stark context by this horror show.

Head coach Brian Ashton had warned his team they needed to raise their performance levels but worryingly they did not respond.

England's fans have had to endure some desperate performances in recent months and years and it looks as if their suffering will continue.

Take nothing away from Ireland, they were superb, but England are one of the best resourced teams in the world and their long-suffering supporters deserve better.

England preparations were disrupted by the ludicrous fixture schedule that saw 11 of England's squad involved in Guinness Premiership action last weekend.

Jason Robinson's withdrawal on Thursday with a neck injury did not help, although his replacement David Strettle was one of the few plusses for England on his debut.

The Harlequins flyer scored a brilliant second-half try but it was too little, too late as his more experienced team-mates failed.

Ashton said: "We weren't as fresh as Ireland but it would be easy to make that excuse and we're not going to. I've still got faith in the squad."

England face France at Twickenham in two weeks and Bernard Laporte's men will be licking their lips at the prospect as Ashton's team again lacked cohesion in their three quarters and discipline up front.

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