England defeated by Ireland in Dublin

  • Ireland: Try - Henderson Con – Sexton Pen – Sexton 2
  • England: Try Con Pen – Farrell 3

England missed out on the chance to win successive Grand Slam titles, losing to Ireland in the final match of the 2017 RBS 6 Nations.

The 13-9 defeat was their first loss in 18 matches and also their first under head coach Eddie Jones.

England had already sealed the RBS 6 Nations title against Scotland last weekend and were looking to become the first side to win back-to-back Grand Slams in the professional era.

Victory would also have seen them set a new world record for successive wins, however, they came up against a determined Ireland side in Dublin.

Ireland led 10-3 at the break through Iain Henderson’s try and five points from the boot of Johnny Sexton while Owen Farrell sent over a penalty for England.

Farrell sent over two further penalties but the boot of Sexton kept England at bay and Ireland held on for victory.

England pay the penalty

After a frantic start which was punctuated by handling errors in damp conditions, both sides traded penalties, before Ireland’s pressure told.

A penalty was kicked to the corner and from the resulting line-out Ireland drove a maul to England’s line and Henderson stretched over for the first try of the game.

Sexton kicked the conversion and other than Elliot Daly’s break through the Irish midfield, the majority of the game was played in English territory.

Jones’ side held firm though with the half-time statistics telling their own story with England conceding five penalties to Ireland’s two while also making 58 more tackles than their opponents. Ireland also enjoyed 74 per cent of possession in a frustrating opening 40 minutes for England.

A game too far

Mako Vunipola came on for Joe Marler at half-time and Farrell reduced the deficit by three points with his second penalty after 50 minutes.

Tom Wood also entered the field to win his 50th cap for England with 20 minutes left as England struggled for territory at the Aviva Stadium.

England were penalised for offside and Sexton restored their seven-point lead.

Nathan Hughes and Ben Te’o came on to finish the game and an illegal tackle on the Worcester centre gave England a penalty on half-way which Farrell kicked to the corner. Ireland were penalised during a maul soon after Farrell sent over the three points.

England were awarded another penalty on halfway which Farrell kicked to 22m, however, Ireland crucially stole the line-out in a key moment of the game and held on for victory.

Lack of momentum

Jones paid tribute to Ireland and admitted his side could not get any momentum in the game.

“Ireland played very well and used the conditions to their advantage," he said.

"We just couldn’t get anything going, we struggled in the lineout and the breakdown. They were two key areas in a game like today."Sometimes you play against a team that are better than you and they were better than us."

“Their defence was good and we couldn't get any momentum in our attack. We tried to get momentum through our forwards and couldn’t get it there.

He added: "We couldn’t shift the ball any wider because they were off the line so quickly. We would have liked to have kicked a bit better but we didn’t. These things happen."

Jones also said his struggled at the breakdown as their bid for history failed in Ireland.

“At the end of day we are back-to-back RBS 6 Nations champions," he said.

"It would have been great to be back-to-back Grand Slam champions and world record holders but these things happen.

“Sometimes you play against a team that are better than you and they were better than us. They were fantastic around the breakdown. There are things you always have to fix, we’ve just got to keep going.”

'Plenty of work to do'

Captain Dylan Hartley said the result showed the side were not at the level they want to be and that they would learn the lessons of defeat.

"It's a big lesson to learn, we set out to win this tournament and we have done, but we are disappointed not to win this final game," he said.

"We had high expectations on ourselves and it goes to show we are not quite there as a team,
 Ireland put us under unbelievable pressure and gave us one hell of a Test match so credit to them.

He added: "We backed every error with another error and couldn't get good field position. This will keep us grounded and we have plenty of work to do."

Ireland: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Kieran Marmion; 1 Jake McGrath, 2 Rory Best (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Iain Henderson, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 7 Sean O'Brien, 8 CJ Stander.

Replacements:16 Niall Scannell, 17 Cian Healy, 18 John Ryan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 , 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Andrew Conway.

England starting XV: 15. Mike Brown (vice captain, Harlequins, 59 caps), 14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 25 caps), 13. Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby, 32 caps), 12. Owen Farrell (vice captain, Saracens, 51 caps), 11. Elliot Daly (Wasps, 12 caps), 10. George Ford (Bath Rugby, 34 caps), 9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 69 caps), 1. Joe Marler (Harlequins, 50 caps), 2. Dylan Hartley (captain, Northampton Saints, 83 caps), 3. Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers, 73 caps), 4. Joe Launchbury (Wasps, 41 caps), 5. Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, 57 caps), 6. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 11 caps), 7. James Haskell (Wasps, 74 caps) , 8. Billy Vunipola (vice captain, Saracens 33 caps).

Finishers: 16. Jamie George (Saracens, 16 caps), 17. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 41 caps), 18. Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins, 7 caps), 19. Tom Wood (Northampton Saints, 49 caps), 20. Nathan Hughes (Wasps, 7 caps), 21. Danny Care (Harlequins, 70 caps), 22. Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors, 7 caps), 23. Jack Nowell  (Exeter Chiefs, 22 caps).