Ireland vs. England: All the talking points, biggest moments and player ratings
A first ever home Grand Slam for Andy Farrell's men.
Ireland were heavy favourites to defeat England, win their 10th straight Test match and pick up a Triple Crown, Six Nations title and a Grand Slam. We've got all the big moments and player ratings from what was a nervy and incident-packed game.
After winning their first four games of the 2023 Six Nations, Ireland could secure a first ever Grand Slam on home soil if they could finish the campaign by knocking over England. Andy Farrell named his Ireland XV, on Thursday, and it was another strong selection.
They had a shaky start but got there in the end, with Dan Sheehan bagging two tries in a 29-16 victory.
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IRELAND PLAYER RATINGS
Hugo Keenan - 7
Won an early kicking battle and made a lovely line-break, reminiscent to his try against France. Made a rare mistake, on 20 minutes, with a skewed clearing kick. Solid in defence. Went off after 40 minutes following Steward high shot.
Mack Hansen - 8
Lovely line break from inside his 22 left several England players in his wake. The man who often steps up when his team needs a spark. Big chase and tackle won an attacking scrum, five metres out.
Robbie Henshaw - 7
First real attacking moment of note was a strong carry up the right wing. Crashed over for the crucial second try.
Bundee Aki - 9
Stood up and showed up with some bruising carries, early on. Timed his pass well for the Henshaw try. Himself and Sexton did well to turnover the ball after a Ben Curry truck-up. Made a super, bullocking run, soon after. 78 metres made off 14 carries.
James Lowe - 6
Was fortunate an offload to an English paw went to ground. Rushed up and missed Watson, on the Ireland 22, but scrambled back to take Ludlum out. Guilty of trying to force it in attack on a few occasions.
Johnny Sexton - 8
Turned over, on the deck, on one of his first carries after receiving the ball with zero forward momentum. Took a quick-tap but was held up over the England line. Milked a penalty when he invited a Dombrandt hit. Shanked out a clearing kick, on 55 minutes. Teamed up with Aki for a turnover. Touchline conversion out Ireland out of reach.
Jamison Gibson-Park - 7
Was more content to feed Sexton and his forwards the go off on his usual handful of snipes. Kicking game was gaining ground so could see why Ireland stuck to it.
Andrew Porter - 6
Nipped in to win his side a penalty at the breakdown. Penalised at line out maul, soon after. Gave away a scrum penalty, on 50 minutes. Kyle Sinker had his number there, today.
Dan Sheehan - 8
Had an early line out wobble. Crashed over after a lovely line out move, taking two England players with him. Threw an offload straight into the grateful bread basket of Sinckler. Grabbed his second try to seal victory.
Tadhg Furlong - 7
Ireland’s top first half tackler, with 10 stuck and none missed. Scrum was up against it but he held up his side well.
Ryan Baird - 9
Had one rousing carry in the first half, as he stepped a couple of England players. One knock-on in an otherwise solid first 40. Claimed the line-out before the Sheehan try. Big breakdown turnover won, on 58 minutes.
James Ryan - 7
Was fortunate to get away with a couple of tackles when he made little attempt to wrap. Solid in the set-piece and tidied up for some teammates.
Peter O'Mahony - 7
Drove an England player back four metres with one defensive stop inside his 22. Had possession ripped on a carry, early in the second half. Juggled and knocked on a long line-out throw, with Willis lining him up.
Josh van der Flier - 7
Early line break inside the England 22 but he was scragged down, 10 metres short. Lovely pass for Sheehan try and won a breakdown turnover.
Caelan Doris - 8
Made a number of huge first half carries and got his side some much-needed forward momentum. Won a valuable turnover in the first half. Was not immune to the loose passing that blighted Ireland for the first hour.
Jimmy O’Brien (for Keenan ’40) - 7
One good kick, early on, but dropped a high ball that Keenan normally would gobble up. Backed up Hansen on the kick-chase.
Jack Conan (for O’Mahony ’55) - 8
Instant impact, and turnover, when he came on. Sublime offload for Sheehan’s try.
Tom O’Toole (for Furlong ’58) - 6
Threw himself about a bit and stuck his tackles.
Ross Byrne (for Sexton ’73) - N/A
Conor Murray (for Gibson-Park ’73) - N/A
Cian Healy (for Porter ’75) - N/A
Rob Herring (for Sheehan) - 7
Came on and scored the bonus point try.
Ireland player ratings so far
To get you up to speed on all the 2023 Six Nations matches for Ireland, so far, here is how the championship has played out for the men in green.
Ireland rolled over Wales, in Cardiff, in their first match out, with Hugo Keenan and Caelan Doris getting our highest ratings (9/10). France were rumbled next, in Dublin, with Keenan and Doris once again in flying form.
In round three, Italy put up a big fight but Ireland finished strong to get their third win on the trot. Josh van der Flier and Tom O'Toole got big chunks of praise, in our final ratings.
After the 22-7 victory over Scotland, van der Flier rated highly again, as did Mack Hansen and emergency hooker Cian Healy.
WATCH RUGBYJOE'S SIX NATIONS CORNER:
- Brian O'Driscoll on the England press conference remark he quickly regretted
- Peter O’Mahony ref-mic comment sums up Ireland feelings towards controversial early try decision
- “Men against boys!”- England stars torn into after French rout
- Tadhg Furlong had three of the best lines in the All Blacks documentary
- Ireland vs. Scotland: All the talking points, biggest moments and player ratings