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England’s grand slam dream over as Ireland win 20-16 at Twickenham
Ireland beat England 20-16 at Twickenham to put their Six Nations campaign back on track. The hosts enjoyed most of the possession, but proved unable to break through a stubborn Irish defence.
AFP -.Tommy Bowe scored two tries as Six Nations champions Ireland bounced back to beat England 20-16 at Twickenham here on Saturday to end their hosts' hopes of a Grand Slam.
Tries by Bowe and Keith Earls helped Ireland into a 13-6 lead as the final quarter approached before a converted first Test try from England prop Dan Cole tied the match at 13-13.
Man of the match Jamie Heaslip said that the scoreline reflected the balance of the encounter.
"I think the score is a fair reflection given that we scored three tries to one," said the 26-year-old Ireland No 8.
"We took our chances, they didn't. We have shown we can kick up a gear in the second-half of matches and we closed the game out well."
Heaslip, whose storming performances in the Irish Grand Slam side last year earned him a call-up for the British and Irish Lions, said that the squad had not reflected much on the 33-10 humbling by France a fortnight ago.
"We didn't do much of that when we got back together again last weekend," said Heaslip, who was winning his 24th cap.
"We just didn't take our chances against the French. In any case we didn't need any motivation for this match, every Irishman wants to come here and win," added the back-row after Ireland's sixth win in seven matches against England.
Meanwhile England manager Martin Johnson said his side had paid the price for failing to make the most of their opportunities.
"They had a couple of chances in the second half and took them well, we had one.
"I thought the guys played very well to get back into game. It was a match either team could have won and either team would be devastated to lose."
It wasn't until the latter stages that England - much criticised for the poor quality of their attacking play in recent months - started to truly test Ireland's defence.
But Johnson, England's 2003 World Cup winning captain, said his team were guilty of "playing too much" rugby in the wet conditions.
"It was a wet day perhaps, we tried to play too much. We turned over a lot of ball. We are trying to play effective rugby, not 'sexy' rugby."
All was not well with talismanic England kicker Jonny Wilkinson who missed a routine penalty 17 minutes from time when he pulled his effort wide of the posts.
It was the third goalkick Wilkinson, Test rugby's world record points scorer, had missed in the match to set alongside his three failures during England's uninspiring 17-12 win over Italy.
But opposing fly-half Jonathan Sexton aided England's cause by missing four out of his five goalkicks and with 10 minutes left he was replaced by the more experienced Ronan O'Gara.
However, before O'Gara could influence the match, Wilkinson kicked England into a 16-13 lead with a trademark drop-goal.
But Bowe dashed England's victory hopes when, from a quick pass by scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, he burst through on Wilkinson's inside for his second try which O'Gara converted to leave Ireland four points in front with barely three minutes left.
England pressed hard for a match-winning try but Ireland - who played the final 16 minutes without Brian O'Driscoll after their captain was knocked out following a collision with team-mate Paul O'Connell - held on to preserve their hope of a successful title defence.
Ireland led out by prop John Hayes as he became the first player to win 100 caps for the country, went ahead as early as the fourth minute.
Wilkinson, making a rare line break, was tackled in midfield by Earls and prop Cian Healy.
From the turnover, the ball was worked out to Sexton.
Winning only his third cap, Sexton then produced a superb grubber kick behind the England defence and right wing Bowe outpaced flanker Lewis Moody for a well-worked try in the corner.
Sexton missed the difficult conversion but Ireland were 5-0 ahead and, to make matters worse for England lock Simon Shaw had to go off with a left shoulder injury.
Sexton, who missed a penalty, extended Ireland's lead to 8-3 before Wilkinson responded in kind to leave the visitors with a narrow 8-6 advantage at half-time.
After a laclustre start to the second half, tempers flared when England scrum-half Danny Care shoved O'Leary at a scrum.
Ireland kicked the subsequent penalty deep into English territory and won the resulting lineout before quick ball from O'Leary and Sexton created an overlap out wide for Earls's 56th minute try.
Sexton sliced the conversion attempt but Ireland were now 13-6 in front.
England, seemingly galvanised by the knowledge they were running out of time, laid siege to the Ireland line with some typical driving forward play which eventually led to a try for Cole.