Derived from Diliff's Dylan Hartley, Twickenham - May 2012.jpg, released with same licence

Dylan Hartley: Huge positives for young England side after Ireland win

Ex-England captain Dylan Hartley believes his former side deserved to beat Ireland at Twickenham in the Six Nations last Saturday.

Marcus Smith’s last-minute drop goal meant England overcame all odds by defeating the Irish 23-22 and end their opponent’s chance to win back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams.

Speaking to SW Londoner and BetIdeas, Hartley said there were huge positives across the board and hoped the win can serve as a reminder to the public that Steve Borthwick’s side still have a good team.

He said: “I haven’t heard Twickenham like that in a few years now, so it’s a good reminder to even the English rugby public that we’ve still got a good team.

“It’s a young team as well and to have that composure to finish the game the way they did.

“You look against Italy, Wales – fine margins and they just win them games by a couple of points.

“That character for a young team to find a way to win is wise beyond their years, all in all huge positives across the board.”

Photo outside twickenham stadium with the banner "home of rugby".
Twickenham Stadium: Photo from Flickr: oatsy40

Ireland went into the tie as huge favourites, not only in the bookies but among the majority of fans.

Many expected Andy Farrell’s side to blow England out of the water.

But the nip-and-tuck battle did the sport of rugby proud and the game was ultimately a microcosm of modern international rugby.

Hartley said: “It’s a great reminder to everyone that sport is a beautiful thing and anything can happen on the day.

“Us out here as supporters, fans, media – we talk about underdogs, form and all these things but when you’re in a changing room you know man-for-man that you’re capable of beating the team across the corridor.”

England went into the fixture off the back of a painful 30-21 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield which saw Duhan van der Merwe score three tries.

Captain Jamie George spoke to TNT Sports ahead of the Ireland game, saying his side would defend Twickenham like every Englishman would.

Hartley credited George’s inspirational performance.

He said: “It’s been inspirational in many ways seeing Jamie [George] playing through the adversity that he’s had to in the last few weeks.

“The weekend was one of them games where he went about his business beautifully, his leadership and captaincy were fantastic.”

James Lowe put Ireland ahead early in the second half, but tries from George Furbank and Ben Earl handed a revived England the lead with 20 minutes to go.

Hartley believes Earl is right up there with New Zealand’s Ardie Savea as the best number eight in the world.

He said: “The humility of the kid is so great that you could easily put him in the top five in the world, his contribution is enormous and England have got a really similiar player in Ben Earl to an Ardie Savea.”

Another player who stole the limelight at Twickenham on Saturday was Danny Care.

The 37-year-old led his side out for his 100th international appearance before kick-off after being named on bench.

Hartley played youth rugby with Care from the age of 16 and captained the scrum-half during his England career.

He said: “Every squad needs a Danny Care.

“He can play the game incredibly well, inject pace into the game or start the game with experience but equally off the field you’re always looking for that fine balance.

“Even his club form: he’s an entertainer and delivers every week for Harlequins – the pairing with Marcus Smith has probably enhanced Danny’s career.

“You want men in your team that can educate young ones and he [Care] can teach guys how to prepare, recover and be themselves in camp.

“It’s one of those moments where you look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Why aren’t you still playing and why don’t you have 100 caps?’ but he plays in a far more intelligent position.”

Feature image from Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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