Jonny May scored twice, including one of the all-time great individual Twickenham tries, as a dominant England overwhelmed an inexperienced Ireland 18-7 yesterday to make it two wins out of two in the Nations Cup.
The winger’s two scores and two Owen Farrell penalties had England 18-0 ahead early in the second half and they then defended brilliantly until Jacob Stockdale crossed late on to reward Ireland for their worthy second-half efforts. England top the group A standings with nine points with one game remaining away to Wales next week and remain on course for a potential competition decider at home against France or Scotland, who meet today.
It was something of a strange performance from England, who were always in control but barely fired an attacking shot in the second half, seemingly content to display their admittedly impressive defensive organisation and aggression as Ireland banged away in midfield.
Nonetheless, it was their fourth successive win over Ireland and gave Eddie Jones another useful pointer about where his team need to develop.
After an early kicking battle, England began to pile on the pressure with their lineout drives and from one of them Farrell had the time to send up a high kick to the corner where May leapt high to catch and roll over the line for his 30th international try. Four minutes later he had his 31st - and one of his best - which made it all the more disappointing that there were no fans in place to acclaim it.
Ireland overthrew an attacking lineout and England shovelled the ball across to May deep inside his own 22. The winger tore past Chris Farrell, kicked ahead and outpaced Jamison Gibson-Park in a 50-metre sprint, nudged it forward again over the tryline and gleefully dived on the ball. May had gone five games without a try but is now his country’s joint-second highest scorer alongside Ben Cohen and Will Greenwood - though still 18 adrift of Rory Underwood.
Ireland, who began their campaign with victory over Wales last week, made almost no impression as Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola and Maro Itoje all made key turnovers and England constantly disrupted the visitors’ lineout to reach halftime 12-0 up.
Ireland started the second half well but were undone by unnecessary indiscipline that allowed Farrell to kick two penalties to take it to 18-0. Ireland’s halfback partnership of Ross Byrne and Gibson-Park had only one previous test start each and neither was able to impose themselves on the game, sitting deep and lacking accuracy in too many of their tactical kicks. The visitors did have a lot of the ball but England defended with fierce tenacity and snuffed out almost everything, with flanker Sam Underhill having a colossal game.
After Henry Slade had brilliantly turned Chris Farrell as the centre crossed the line, Ireland finally got on the scoreboard five minutes from time when replacement flyhalf and former England under-20 player Billy Burns chipped through for fellow replacement Stockdale to catch on the full and score.
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