Ireland overcome determined 14-man England at Twickenham to keep Six Nations hopes alive

Credit:Inhpo
Ireland had to battle for every score against a tough and feisty England side Credit: Inpho

Ireland came good in the final 15 minutes to see off a determined effort from 14-man England at Twickenham and record a bonus-point victory.

The contest was close throughout most of the match despite Charlie Ewels' second minute red card, but Ireland found another gear in the final quarter to score two final tries and put the result beyond doubt.

It means Ireland remain in title contention on the final weekend of the Six Nations while England must discover how much they have left in the tank as they head to France with the aim of finishing third.

England second row Charlie Ewels became the fastest sending-off in the history of the tournament for a head-led tackle on James Ryan that also lacked any attempt to wrap his arms in a challenge that ended the concussed Leinster second row's afternoon.

The match was from then on a battle between Ireland's invention and creativity and England's physical strength and emotional toughness.

Maro Itoje and Tadhg Beirne battle for a lineout ball Credit: Inpho

The hosts, having recovered from the initial shock of losing Ewels just 82 seconds into pivotal showdown, went toe-to-toe with opposition who suffered at times with ill-discipline and inaccuracy.

The scrum emerged as England's greatest weapon, producing six penalties on a traumatising afternoon for the Irish set-piece and enabling Marcus Smith to keep his side in contention from the kicking tee.

Even with wing Jack Nowell packing down in the back row England were utterly dominant and the visitors suffered through their indiscipline across all areas as referee Mathieu Raynal penalised them repeatedly.

An action-packed first half unfolded at lightning pace and produced brutal collisions to the extent that neither Ryan, Tom Curry nor Kyle Sinckler made it to the interval.

But there were also moments of artistry and the first of these arrived in the sixth minute when an undermanned England blindside was expertly exploited by Josh van der Flier and Dan Sheehan, with the pace of James Lowe doing the rest.

James Lowe celebrates scoring the opening try of the game Credit: Inpho

A second Ireland try was chalked off because of a knock-on and even as England celebrated winning a scrum penalty close to their line, their joy quickly turned to despair as Curry injured his hamstring while running.

Alex Dombrandt had been limited to one training session all week due to Covid but he now found himself in the back row that was swimming against the tide.

Ireland were pummelled at the scrum once more, however, and this time the penalty was in Smith's range so the fly-half duly obliged to get his side off the mark.

Until Jamie George knocked on at the back of a dangerously-positioned maul, the home side had defied the odds to seize control with their pack making an impact in all departments.

A thrilling raid by Ireland ended with a third scrum penalty and they just could not escape Raynal's whistle as Smith found the target once more.

But when given the opportunity to accelerate the tempo they were irrepressible and even in the face of committed home defence, a second try was added as Jamison Gibson-Park took a quick tap and sent Hugo Keenan over.

The first half finished with Smith splitting the posts and the second began with the rivals trading blows in attack.

Smith kicked another three points as England continued to win key moments, but the most profitable platform remained the scrum and when Raynal raised his hand for the sixth time Harlequins' fly-half levelled the score.

Johnny Sexton nudged Ireland back in front, however, and as pressure built again on the home line, Conan was able to stride through a big gap before Bealham secured the bonus point.