Ireland claim victory in Dublin battle
February 27, 2005
Brian O'Driscoll celebrates his winning try
© Getty Images
A Brian O´Driscoll try and the boot of Ronan O´Gara helped Ireland claim back-to-back wins against England for the first time since 1994, as they edged a Dublin dog fight 19-13.
Eddie O´Sullivan´s side remain on course for a first Grand Slam since 1948, with O´Driscoll´s 58th-minute touch down - his first in six Tests against England - swinging the decision for the home side.
The visitors - still without an RBS Six Nations point - rattled Ireland early on as Leicester back row Martin Corry waltzed over for a 7th-minute score, but without that winning habit, Andy Robinson´s men fell to a valiant defeat.
Not without controversy though, as exclusive ownership of both ball and territory was theirs in the final quarter-hour.
England´s pack did rumble over the Irish line on 75 minutes, but with Wasps flanker Johnny O´Connor - playing his first full 80 minutes for the Irish - in close attendance, South African referee Jonathan Kaplan failed to see a grounding.
In condemning England to their worst Championship run since 1987, Ireland were quick out of the blocks with O´Gara flicking over a fourth minute drop goal.
The Munster fly-half was to the forefront of Ireland´s play, but could do little when held off-the-ball by Danny Grewock for Corry´s third international try in 8 years, just three minutes later.
England set up ruck position on the Irish 22, and with the home defence all at sea, Corry grabbed a quick pick-and-drive to thunder over to the left of the posts.
A more-at-ease Charlie Hodgson converted and it was game on for Robinson´s side - without a victory since November´s defeat of South Africa.
Backed by the wind, they performed well, using strike runners Josh Lewsey and captain Jason Robinson to good effect in the loose.
Still though, it was Ireland who pushed the points and O´Gara succeeded with two close-in penalties on 10 and 14 minutes to rack up his 500th Test point on the occasion of his 50th cap.
Quite a record, and the England reposte was quite forceful with Hodgson almost celebrating a Mark Cueto try in the right corner.
The Sale fly-half had flighted a brilliant cross-field kick for his winger, but Cueto - with only O´Driscoll and Denis Hickie aware to the danger - failed to check his run sufficiently and was pulled for offside.
Hodgson did reassume the lead for England on 25 minutes with a penalty from halfway, but O´Gara´s second drop nine minutes later gave O´Sullivan´s men a slim 12-10 break buffer.
A silly Harry Ellis tug on his opposite number Peter Stringer offered the Ireland number ten his first shot at the posts on the restart.
He fluffed it and was to miss a further two shots - one a late drop attempt - as the Irish, albeit in overall dominance, stuttered to their ninth straight home win since 2003´s 42-6 Grand Slam loss to the men in white.
The result did hang very much in the balance up until O´Driscoll´s try. Jamie Noon was finding more freedom in the Irish midfield, and a 55th-minute break from the Newcastle centre set up Hodgson for a neat drop goal, and a 13-12 lead.
Ireland countered quickly and following a deft incision by Hickie, and recycled ball dummied by Geordan Murphy past Hodgson, O´Driscoll danced in along the right touchline for his 26th Test try - and outright lead in the Ireland record stakes again, over Leinster colleague Hickie.
O´Gara converted to draw up a 19-13 scoreline - one very familiar to Irish supporters from last year´s Twickenham win.
Composure was called for, but it was lacking. O´Gara chopped a 61st-minute penalty wide and seven minutes later, went for the wrong option - with unmarked men to his left - as he drilled a drop shot wide, following a barracking 20-metre forward maul.
The late inclusion of wily scrum-half Matt Dawson did much to England´s attack, and Hickie was called upon twice to tackle Cueto and Lewsey only metres from his own line.
That line held on, but only just, and perhaps with a friendly nod to Kaplan and the tireless O´Connor, the Irish held on to set up another home humdinger against champions France in two weeks´ time.
Ireland: 19 Try: O´Driscoll Con: O´Gara Pen: O´Gara (2) DG: O´Gara (2)
England: 13 Try: Corry Con: Hodgson Pen: Hodgson DG: Hodgson
IRELAND: G Murphy; G Dempsey, B O'Driscoll (Capt), S Horgan, D Hickie; R O'Gara, P Stringer; R Corrigan, S Byrne, J Hayes, M O'Kelly, P O'Connell, S Easterby, J O'Connor, A Foley.
Replacements: F Sheahan, M Horan, D O'Callaghan, E Miller, G Easterby, D Humphreys, K Maggs. Subs used: M Horan for Corrigan (67 mins)
ENGLAND: J Robinson (Capt); M Cueto, J Noon, O Barkley, J Lewsey; C Hodgson, H Ellis; G Rowntree, S Thompson, M Stevens, D Grewcock, B Kay, J Worsley, L Moody, M Corry.
Replacements: A Titterell, D Bell, S Borthwick, A Hazell, M Dawson, A Goode, O Smith. Subs used: M Dawson for Ellis (70 mins)
HT: Ireland 12 England 10; Attendance: 49,250 Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape