England 21-10 Ireland
England exorcised their World Cup demons with a 21-10 win over Ireland in their first home match since the tournament.
Eddie Jones’s men had dealt with tough away tests against Scotland and Italy and faced an Ireland side without a win in this year’s competition.
They did trail at one point in the second half following Conor Murray’s try, but roared back with tries from Anthony Watson and Mike Brown to continue their unbeaten start under Jones.
Dylan Hartley led his side out at a windy Twickenham with a full debut for lock Maro Itoje, who pressured Ireland early on.
Despite the ball being kept predominantly in the Irish half, it was Jonny Sexton who opened the scoring with a penalty from half way after five minutes.
Owen Farrell kicked back for parity a few minutes later with the game failing to grow in the first 20, with handling errors and knock ons the order of the day.
It looked like a try might spark the game to life and England came closest in the first half with their captain charging for the line, only to be held up short and penalised for double movement.
Billy Vunipola’s carrying helped retain England’s territorial play with Jones’s men managing to keep the ball in the Irish half but rarely threatening.
Farrell’s second penalty gave England a 6-3 half time lead in a game which had subdued the expectant crowd.
Ireland upped their game after the break and looked the more dangerous of the two sides and they were rewarded for their positivity through a try from scrum half Murray in the corner.
Sexton converted top open a four-point gap that was soon cut down to one by a third Farrell penalty.
Despite Schmidt’s men retaking the lead, England were lively going forward and managed to regain the lead with a well worked try through Watson who went over from Chris Robshaw’s lofted pass out wide to make it 14-10.
Another followed in quick succession after Brown found space on the outside following some sustained pressure to give England a deserved lead at the hour mark.
England had raced into a 21-10 lead, but could have been pegged back if Robbie Henshaw had grounded his effort in the corner after Sexton’s break only to drop the ball over the line.
Ireland pushed for a chance to get back into the game but despite the sin binning of substitute Danny Care, England held on to maintain their 100% record in this year’s competition.
Jones said he’d expected a tough test against the champions but was happy to come out as a winner and praised the performance of man of the match Billy Vunipola, who is expects to only get better.
He praised England’s defensive effort with 14 men in the second half but bemoaned their inability to convert points in the first period.
As the only side to win all three games so far they are in pole position to gain the crown, but face a stern test against the only other unbeaten side, Wales, at Twickenham on March 12.