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O'Driscoll try sinks lively England

28 February 2005

Ireland 19 England 13

Brian O'Driscoll's late try condemned England to their third consecutive defeat in this seasons RBS Six Nations Championship in Dublin on Saturday.

It leaves the World Champions just ahead of Italy on points difference in the championship table and they now have to beat both Italy and Scotland in their remaining matches to avoid the wooden spoon.

But, England will be desperately disappointed to have lost to Ireland as they bounced back to something like their true form only to be denied two touchdowns by South African referee Jonathan Kaplan.

The first was from a pin-point cross-kick from fly half Charlie Hodgson to his Sale Sharks clubmate and right wing Mark Cueto who was dubiously adjudged to have been off side and the other was from a pushover on the Ireland line which a furious wing Josh Lewsey claimed he had touched down.

Mr. Kaplan failed to consult with the video referee and then baffled everybody by awarding Ireland the put-in at the ensuing five metre scrum.

Nevertheless, it turned out to be Irelands day as they managed to hold England to just one penalty in the second half before O'Driscoll's match winning score.

Stand-off Ronan O'Gara put them ahead after just four minutes with a drop-goal only for England to go in front when, at a ruck, the outstanding Martin Corry suddenly saw no green shirt in front him and covered the 35 metres to the Irish line untouched.

Charlie Hodgson converted to put England 7-3 ahead but two O'Gara penalties in four minutes had Ireland back in front 9-7 after 12 minutes play.

Although Hodgson again restored England's lead on 24 minutes, when flanker Simon Easterby was done for hands in a ruck, an O'Gara drop-goal had the home side in front 12-10 by half-time.

England dominated much of the second half having edged in front on 56 minutes through a Hodgson drop-goal until a quality try from Ireland settled the outcome late on.

Geordan Murphy's wonderful dummy and pass was taken in one hand by O'Driscoll who glided up the right hand touchline and then made enough room for O'Gara to ease over his conversion.

For England Corry was everywhere while there was an encouraging debut for tight-head prop Matt Stevens who more than held his own in the front-row as well as getting fully involved in broken play.

Charlie Hodgson bounced back from his recent disappointments with an assured performance and their was flashes of brilliance from Jamie Noon in the centre.

IRELAND: Murpohy; Dempsey, O'Driscoll(c), Horgan, Hickie; O'Gara, Stringer; Corrigan (Horan 68), Byrne, Hayes; O'Connell, O'Kelly; Easterby, Foley, O'Connor.

ENGLAND: Robinson; Cueto, Noon, Barkley, Lewsey; Hodgson, Ellis (Dawson 72); Rowntree, Thompson, Stevens; Grewcock, Kay; Worsley, Corry, Moody.

Ref: J. Kaplan (South Africa)