Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Red Roses Wilt under Pressure from Brilliant Ireland

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Red Roses Wilt under Pressure from Brilliant Ireland

Article excerpt

ENGLAND collapsed to an alarming 19-9 defeat by Ireland as their pursuit of a first RBS 6 Nations title under Stuart Lancaster derailed spectacularly at the Aviva Stadium.

Jonathan Sexton inspired the reigning champions' 10th successive victory by producing a masterclass in game management, while his half-back partner Conor Murray also flourished behind an Irish pack that played with furious intent throughout.

The only surprise at half-time was that they led by just six points despite having been superior in every department, with Sexton directing operations with calm authority.

And the manner in which they ratcheted up the intensity in the third quarter was reminiscent of New Zealand, with Sexton's vision initiating a try for Robbie Henshaw that established a 19-3 lead.

Inside centre Henshaw was named man of the match, but that accolade could easily have gone to Sexton who decorated his display with four penalties and a conversion. England were over-run for lengthy spells of the second half and apart from a characteristic fightback in the final quarter, there was little to applaud in a chastening afternoon. …

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