England kept their Six Nations Championship hopes alive with a resounding 24-12 win over Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday, ending their visitors’ grand slam charge.
The 2019 World Cup finalists came flying out of the traps, forcing error after Irish error to take a 17-0 lead into the half time break.
They hit the front when Ben Youngs popped through a grubber kick that the jittery Johnny Sexton failed to deal with behind his own try line before George Ford dotted down in the nick of time.
Ford then turned provider, putting Jacob Stockdale under pressure that the wing failed to deal with, this time allowing Elliot Daly to dive on to the ball and add to the Irish woes.
Veteran Sexton had already dragged a penalty kick badly wide and he effectively gave away another three points when he was pinged at the other end, allowing home captain Owen Farrell to add to the advantage for the Red Rose.
Coach Andy Farrell’s side finally came into the game after the interval, with the hosts content to look after their handsome lead.
Robbie Henshaw squeezed in to reduce the arrears and give his side the slightest sniff at a comeback.
But England’s bench had other ideas, with Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge and Charlie Ewels combining to press home England’s scrum dominance.
A penalty was kicked to the corner, they set the perfect maul from the line-out and it was Cowan-Dickie who drove it home through a fragmented defence to seal the deal.
England didn’t manage a bonus point with a fourth try but they did ensure Ireland would leave west London empty handed, with Andrew Porter’s score at the death not nearly enough to bring them within seven points of their hosts.
It leaves Eddie Jones’ England second in the Six Nations table with two rounds to play, four points behind resurgent France.
Ireland are third on points difference and must regroup fast with the Triple Crown gone and a visit to Paris looming on the last weekend.
Here’s how the numbers stacked up.
England vs Ireland: Six Nations by the numbers
*All stats sourced from the official Six Nations match reports.