Cool Farrell puts England in Six Nations control

19:44, Feb 10 2013
Six Nations
Sean Maitland collects a high ball in his debut for Scotland.
Six Nations
Billy Twelvetrees of England is hauled down by the Scotland defence.
Six Nations
Halfback Danny Care breaks through the Scottish defence.
Six Nations
Geoff Parling of England goes over to score.
Six Nations
Kiwi Sean Maitland scores the first try of the match as Scotland went down 38-18 to England in their Six Nations opener.
Six Nations
Jonny Sexton tries to break through the Welsh defence.
Six Nations
Sam Warburton prepares for a scrum during Wales and Ireland's Six Nations opener.
Six Nations
Rob Kearney of Ireland slips through the tackle of George North.
Six Nations
Toby Faletau is stopped by Jonny Sexton just short of the try line .
Six Nations
A dejected Wales side reacts after losing their opening Six Nations match to Ireland 30-22.
Six Nations
Benjamin Fall of France is held by Alberto Sgarbi during the Six Nations match between Italy and France.
Six Nations
Luciano Orquera of Italy moves away from Dimitri Szarzewski during the Six Nations match between Italy and France.
Six Nations
Italy celebrate their victory over France in their first game of the Six Nations.
Six Nations
Rob Kearney of Ireland throws himself on the loose ball metres from his tryline as Mike Brown of England closes in.
Six Nations
James Haskell of England and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland grapple during England's 12-6 win over Ireland.
Six Nations
Sean O'Brien of Ireland is tackled by Tom Youngs and Chris Robshaw of England.
Six Nations
Owen Farrell kicks a penalty for England during their win over Ireland.
Six Nations
George North of Wales scores the opening try during the Six Nations match between France and Wales.
Six Nations
Yoann Huget of France looks at the cut up pitch during his side's loss to Wales.
Six Nations
Ryan Jones of Wales claims a high ball from Damien Chouly of France.
Six Nations
Stuart Hogg of Scotland breaks away to score a try for Scotland during their win over Italy.
Six Nations
Sergio Parisse of Italy wins the line-out during their Six Nations game against Scotland.
Six Nations
Tim Visser of Scotland breaks through the tackle of Sergio Parisse.
Wales v Italy
Edoardo Gori of Italy puts the ball into a scrum during his side's loss to Wales.
Wales v Italy
Alex Cuthbert of Wales breaks away during his side's Six Nations win over Italy.
Wales v Italy
Kristopher Burton of Italy kicks over two Welsh players.
Wales v Italy
Simone Favaro of Italy is tackled by Leigh Halfpenny of Wales.
England v France
Morgan Parra of France attempts a tackle on Manu Tuilagi of England.
England v France
Yoann Maestri of France wins the line out ball ahead of Tom Wood of England.
England v France
Yoann Huget of France and Alex Goode of England go up for a high ball.
England v France
Teammates congratulate Manu Tuilagi on his try in England's win over France.
Scotland v Ireland
A scuffle breaks out between Jim Hamilton of Scotland and Donnache Ryan of Ireland.
Scotland v Ireland
Sean Lamont of Scotland and Luke Fitzgerald of Ireland collide in mid air trying to claim a high ball.
Scotland v Ireland
Sean O'Brien of Ireland is challenged by Stuart Hogg of Scotland.
Scotland v Ireland
Sean Maitland runs out for Scotland ahead of their clash with Ireland, which they won 12-8.

England took a giant stride toward capturing the Six Nations title by scrapping out a 12-6 victory over Ireland in filthy conditions to become the only team capable of winning the Grand Slam.

In a tetchy match decided by the boot, the unflappable Owen Farrell kicked two penalties in either half to clinch a second straight victory for the English after their 38-18 triumph over Scotland.

"I'm chuffed for Owen Farrell but also the maturity of the whole team," England coach Stuart Lancaster said. "The stakes have always been high but they go even higher with France coming to Twickenham next off the back of a defeat (to Wales) yesterday. That game will be massive."

Ireland hadn't lost a competitive home game against England in 10 years, but a stream of handling errors and first-half injuries to winger Simon Zebo and flyhalf Jonathan Sexton held the team back.

Behind 6-0 at halftime, substitute Ronan O'Gara leveled the score by the 57th with two penalties and Ireland would have sensed victory when England lost James Haskell to the sin-bin.

However, the visitors showed great composure to hold firm and relied on the unforgiving kicking of Farrell - the heir apparent to Jonny Wilkinson - to see the team home.

"If you practice enough it's only another kick. I kick thousands of them," Farrell said. "Conditions out there weren't great but we rolled our sleeves up and got stuck in."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney said Zebo, one of the best players in the 30-22 win over Wales last weekend, would miss the rest of the tournament after breaking a bone in his foot.

"It's been an attritional couple of games and we had a few injuries leading into the tournament, but that's the way it goes," said Kidney, who is already without key forwards Paul O'Connell and Stephen Ferris.

"This championship is a long way from being over. France are in London next time up and England still have to go to Wales. When we get our own game right we will be in a good position. We just were not on the money today."

Aside from its handling errors - nine in the opening 36 minutes - that botched promising attacking positions, Ireland probably wasn't helped by star center Brian O'Driscoll's chaotic build-up to the match. He started despite being with his wife, Amy, for the birth of their baby girl on the morning of the game.

As it turned out, O'Driscoll, like most other backs on the pitch, was hardly seen as conditions invariably turned the match into a battle of attrition.

In Farrell, England has arguably the best kicker in the tournament and he calmly booted long-range penalties in the third and 29th minutes as Ireland was kept scoreless in the first half.

The English became ruffled after the break, though, making a mess of two early lineouts and then getting pulverized at a scrum to allow O'Gara to reduce the deficit to three points in the 45th.

The Irish were given further hope when Haskell was yellow-carded for interfering with the ball illegally at a ruck, and O'Gara kicked the resulting penalty to make it 6-6.

However, England coped well a man light and forced errors that were punished by two penalties from Farrell in a three-minute span to see the match out for arguably the team's biggest away win in Stuart Lancaster's short reign.

"We are suffering a bit in there - it is a tough one to take," Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip said. "England played a smart game in the conditions and played a lot of rugby in our half." 

England 12 (Owen Farrell 4 penalties), Ireland 6 (Ronan O'Gara 2 penalties). HT: 6-0.

Advertisement

Owen Farrell
SPOT ON: Owen Farrell kicked England to their first win in Dublin in 10 years and a commanding Six Nations lead.

AP