Ireland took full advantage of a record-breaking red card for England lock up Charlie Ewels 82 seconds in their Six Nations clash at Twickenham after less than two minutes to claim a 32-15 victory with bonus points that keeps them in the hunt for the Six Nations. Title.
Ewels was sent off for a frontal tackle on Ireland second row James Ryan on Saturday after just 82 seconds and Ireland were leading 15-9 at half-time after tries from James Lowe and Hugo Keenan.
England fought back superbly to level the game via Marcus Smith’s boot in an incredible atmosphere, but Ireland finished strong as tries from Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham earned a potentially key bonus point.
France top the table with 18 points after winning their first four games and will clinch the Grand Slam with victory over England next week.
Ireland have 16 and could still clinch their first title since 2018 with a win or maybe even a draw against Scotland in Dublin if England can upset France in the final game of the Championship.
A French draw could also be enough for Ireland to top the table with a win.
“We showed today how much it means to be part of this team. We haven’t given up for a second,” said England captain Courtney Lawes.
“We knew it was going to be difficult from the second minute. As soon as the red card came out the energy went up, but we were quite tired at the end.
The long-awaited showdown appeared to be effectively decided when Ewels’ right tackle on counterpart James Ryan left no room for the officials to ‘mitigate’.
It was the first sending off for a team since the start of the Championship in 1883, with Ewels becoming the seventh England player to be sent off in a Test.
After a penalty from Johnny Sexton, the dangerous Lowe had too much space and crossed for the opening try to give the visitors an 8-0 lead.
England regrouped well as they forced a series of penalties allowing Smith to come back to 8-6, only for an excellent running line from full-back Keenan to extend the lead, which was 15-9 at the start. halftime after another penalty from Smith.
England steadily demolished the Irish scrum after the break as Twickenham smelled a win for the ages as Smith clipped over two penalties to level the scores after an hour.
They exploded again when Freddie Steward grabbed an interception on his own line and galloped for a certain try, only to have the game called up for an Irish penalty.
It proved the turning point of the game as Sexton knocked him down before Ireland stepped up the pressure, eventually forcing England’s goal-line defense to crack when Conan crossed into the corner and Bealham swung. is then bundled up for the potentially key fourth try.
England now travel to Paris to avoid three league defeats for the second consecutive year, while Ireland will have to do some work on Scotland and then sit down and, if they can, cheer England on to Paris.
England manager Eddie Jones said the game was a great learning experience for his side, but they suffered from inexperience and excessive exuberance.
“I thought we were in a position to win the game,” Jones said. “Our inexperience and exuberance is fantastic for the team but it cost us a bit in the end.
Jones said his side “opened the field for Ireland” in the closing stages as Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham crossed the try line to end England’s chances of winning the title.
“It’s just experience, knowing what to do at the right time,” he continued. “All young players go through this.”
Jones said he had no problem with the red card as “player safety is paramount”.
“It’s just something you have to adapt to and react to,” he added.
Jones’ team travel to Paris to take on France, who are chasing a Grand Slam after dominating the first four rounds of the tournament.
“We’ll be right,” Jones said.
“We are not lacking in spirit. We’re going to pull ourselves together and sink into France. You have to play well against them. The way they attack gives you opportunities to attack against them.
England full-back Steward had as much hope as Jones for England’s final game but admitted losing any chance of winning the title was “devastating”.
“The Six Nations is still a tournament we want to win and it won’t be possible,” he said.
“This team is the one that’s not going to give up. We’re going to watch the game again and we’re going to attack the France game like we would any other. It’s a really exciting prospect to go into that atmosphere and to put on a show.
Meanwhile, center Chris Harris scored two tries as Scotland cruised to a 33-22 bonus-point win over Italy in their Six Nations encounter at the Stadio Olimpico, inflicting a 36th successive defeat in the competition to their hosts.
Center Sam Johnson, winger Darcy Graham and full-back Stuart Hogg also crossed for tries as Scotland prevailed in a game that looked more like a street fight than a showdown, both teams playing loose rugby made worse by mistakes.
Italy had managed just one try in the Six Nations before the game but got three in Rome as scrum-half Callum Braley and debutant Ange Capuozzo, with a brace, crossed to score.
Capuozzo’s first try gave the home side their first second-half points in this year’s competition.
Scotland take fourth place in the table with 10 points from four games, while Italy remain stuck at the bottom of the table, having not yet broken their duck and with a game to come in Wales at the weekend. next.
Italy had scored just 16 points in their three games prior to this one, so their run against Scotland is another sign of their slow but visible improvement under manager Kieran Crowley.
It’s hard to argue with a win from five tries, although the visitors will be unhappy with some aspects of their game, particularly the way they gave up the ball with unforced errors.
It took Scotland almost a quarter of the game to string together a few phases and enter Italy 22, with their attack launched by the unlikely sight of hooker George Turner bursting down the right wing. The move was finished in the opposite corner by Johnson.
One quickly became two as Scotland moved coast to coast from their 22 after an interception from scrum-half Ali Price, which fed winger Kyle Steyn.
The kick of the latter towards the posts was recovered without opposition by Harris to return at a gallop.
Italy got their reward for a brilliant first half hour when they found space on the outside, with winger Pierre Bruno showing excellent feet to stay on the pitch as he tossed the ball inside for Braley to score.
Harris scored another goal as the visitors led 19-10 at half-time, and they claimed their bonus points try eight minutes into the second half when Finn Russell moved inside for Graham, who zigzagged across the try line.
Hogg kicked in the visitors’ fifth try with 20 minutes to go but the game’s last two scores went to the sharp Capuozzo as Italy finished stronger.