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England 18-7 Ireland: Jonny May stars in emphatic and entertaining victory for hosts

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Published in Rugby
Saturday, 21 November 2020 09:49

Wing Jonny May scored a superb solo try as England claimed an emphatic and entertaining Autumn Nations Cup victory against Ireland at Twickenham.

May crossed twice as the hosts dominated the first half and the second try, covering most of the pitch as he chased his kick, was one of his finest.

The hosts retained control after the break with two Owen Farrell penalties.

Unwilling to let May take all the plaudits, Jacob Stockdale chased a kick to give Ireland their only try.

England are now top of their group and in pole position to compete for the title on finals weekend.

Eddie Jones' side travel to Wales for their final group game next Saturday, while Ireland host Georgia on the Sunday.

Italy, Scotland, Fiji and France feature in Group B, but Fiji have been unable to complete any of their matches because of a coronavirus outbreak in the team.

The winners of each of the two groups will face each other on 5 or 6 December to decide an overall champion.

England's backs light up Twickenham

England head coach Jones made sure to stress before the match that his side were facing their toughest challenge since the return of international rugby in October.

With England's past two Tests coming against Georgia and Italy, it was not as controversial a statement as those that would come later in the week.

Jones jokingly referred to Ireland as the "United Nations", referencing the five southern hemisphere-born players in their starting line-up, and questioned prop Andrew Porter's scrummaging technique.

Ireland did not look as fired up by the opposition coach's comments as they might have been and were overshadowed by England's electric backs.

Hooker Jamie George had claimed a hat-trick from mauls in their 40-0 win against Georgia, but England's attacking intentions this week were clear as Ben Youngs took a quick penalty from a position that could have seen Farrell claim an easy three points.

The captain got his reward shortly after as his cross-field kick fell for May, who leaped into the south-west London sky to beat Hugo Keenan and cross in the right corner.

It was the wing's 30th England try but his crowning moment came minutes later with a score that is sure to make Twickenham highlights reels for years to come.

May danced around Irish defenders on his own 22 then chased his own kick, beating Ireland scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park, and another tap with his foot allowed him to cover the final 10 metres and score.

His 31st try took him one ahead of Jeremy Guscott's total and level with 2003 World Cup winners Ben Cohen and Will Greenwood - only England's record try-scorer Rory Underwood on 49 remains ahead of him.

Farrell extends lead as Ireland concede penalties

The match had been billed as a physical battle, with Ireland captain James Ryan and England star Maro Itoje at its centre.

That physical element was clear as Ireland lock Quinn Roux made the first significant move after the break, pulling England flanker Tom Curry to the floor by his neck.

The infraction gave Farrell the chance to add three points to England's lead and, shortly after the more experienced Conor Murray came on to replace Gibson-Park, Ireland conceded another penalty.

Ryan was caught off his feet at the breakdown and Farrell made no mistake from the tee again, putting England 18 points ahead.

Ireland's forwards continued to fight but eventually handed the baton over to the backs as fly-half Ross Byrne kicked forward for centre Chris Farrell, who was held up by Henry Slade over the tryline.

The game began to lose momentum until replacement fly-half Billy Burns breathed some life into it before the death.

The number 10 chipped a ball over the top and Stockdale burst forward, beating Max Malins to claim it and become the first player to score against England in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Player of the match: Jonny May

Reaction

England coach Eddie Jones told BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: "We dominated the game, put ourselves in a good position to maybe go on and dominate. We didn't, but there is a lot more in us, which is pleasing.

"The defence was pretty good but we are disappointed with the try at the end. We'd have liked to have a clean sheet, as they say in football, but we are improving. I particularly liked our ferocity of our ruck defence today."

'Not sure whether England should be grateful or Ireland aggrieved' - analysis

Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson said on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: "It was routine from England. There were glimpses in the first half and injections of pace.

"There was counter-attacking and there were wonderful tries from May. I thought 'here we go' for the second half, but as much as Ireland knocked on the door, England had too much and were not too fussed about attacking."

Former Ireland centre Darren Cave on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: "I thought we would learn where both teams are at, but it was hard to assess.

"Ireland were underwhelming, England were dominant, but it did not reflect that. England know how to beat Ireland; they executed their plan perfectly. I'm not sure if Ireland should be grateful for only losing by 13, or England aggrieved for not scoring more."

LINE-UPS

England: Daly; Joseph, Lawrence, Slade, May; Farrell (capt), Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler; Itoje, Launchbury; Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Genge for M Vunipola (62), Earl for Underhill (62), Robson for Youngs (62), Stuart for Sinckler (68), Hill for Launchbury (68), Ford for Lawrence (68), Malins for Joseph (71) Dunn for George (79).

Ireland: Keenan; Earls, Farrell, Aki, Lowe; R Byrne, Gibson-Park; Healy, Kelleher, Porter; Roux, James Ryan (capt); Stander, O'Mahony, Doris.

Replacements: Murray for Gibson-Park (50), Herring for Kelleher (50), Henderson for Roux (50), Stockdale for Keenan (57), Bealham for Healy (65), Connors for Stander (65), Burns for Byrne (68).

Not used: John Ryan

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