Sport | Rugby

Farrell kicks England to victory over Ireland

Lancaster’s men stay on course for Six Nations title and grand slam after second successive win

  • The Guardian
  • Published: 21:43 February 10, 2013

Twelve points from the boot of Owen Farrell earned England a hard-fought win and made it two Six Nations victories out of two  England remain on course for the Six Nations title and a possible grand slam after scoring their first championship win over Ireland in Dublin since 2003. 

In a low-scoring game played in tricky wet conditions, four penalties from six attempts by Owen Farrell were enough to see off their disappointed hosts in a taut contest which yielded few try-scoring opportunities for either side. 

Ireland could not really complain about the outcome, even though injuries did them few favours with their fly-half, Jonny Sexton, and winger Simon Zebo both limping off in the first half.

The greasy ball proved their frequent undoing, the Irish captain Jamie Heaslip twice guilty of glaring knock-ons from Farrell restarts. Brian O'Driscoll also experienced mixed emotions after his wife gave birth to their first child, a baby girl, just hours before kick-off. 

It was a day of hard labour all round. The conditions ensured an often disjointed first half with England leading 6-0 at the break thanks to two successful Farrell penalties from three attempts, both fine efforts considering the weather. 

Ireland did enjoy decent periods of possession but were prone to dropping the ball at crucial moments, not least when Mike McCarthy spilt an easy pass following an unexpected scrum turnover. 

England's defence was also purposeful and organised and Farrell, with Sexton safely out of the way, made the Irish pay for their repeated lapses in discipline, Cian Healy sparked a first-half scuffle after appearing to stamp on Dan Cole's ankle and the citing officer may also take an interest in another suspect challenge on Joe Marler. 

A fierce encounter thretened to tilt back in the hosts' favour, however, when James Haskell was sin-binned in the 57th minute for allegedly kicking the ball away while lying on the ground. 

Ronan O'Gara, Sexton's replacement, landed a magnificent long-ranged penalty through a swirling wind and suddenly the game was tied up at 6-6. The Irish reckoned without the nerveless Farrell who kicked his 14-man team back in front with two more angled penalties. 

It ensured there would be no fairytale result for O'Driscoll, whose wife Amy Huberman gave birth to their first child at 10.30am, less than five hours before kick-off.

The Irish centre was present for the birth but dashed back to win his 122nd cap. He and his centre partner Gordon D'Arcy started together in the backline for the 50th time in Test matches. 

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