Watch: Ireland were practising the Keith Earls move prior to kick-off
It might have seemed opportunistic but in fact, it was a pre-planned set-play, brilliantly executed by Ireland.
Still got it…
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 20, 2021
Eagle-eyed rugby analyst Brett Igoe spotted the clip below and posted it on Twitter. It shows the Ireland team feinting a number one jumper line-out coming short, before the hooker overthrows to the rear.
— Brett Igoe (@brettruganalyst) March 20, 2021
Sexton added the conversion but England skipper Farrell quickly kicked a penalty to become only the third player to reach 500 Six Nations points – after Ronan O’Gara and Jonny Wilkinson – and reduce England’s deficit to 10-6.
Later in the game Earls was denied his second try of the afternoon after Iain Henderson was adjudged to have knocked on in the build-up.
Experienced wing Earls acrobatically touched down wide on the right after somehow preventing Sexton’s cross-field kick bouncing into touch.
Referee Mathieu Raynal brought play back for a penalty, which the reliable Sexton converted to give his side a 23-6 lead.
England’s hopes of a fightback were given a boost in the 64th minute when Aki was sent off for a high challenge on Billy Vunipola.
Having watched replays, referee Raynal deemed Aki’s tackle to be dangerous after he appeared to catch Vunipola in the head with his shoulder.
England immediately made the most of their numerical advantage courtesy of a Ben Youngs try which, after Daly missed the conversion, left them 26-11 behind.
A further two penalties from Sexton prevented England from building any momentum.
The successful kicks took the fly-half to 22 individual points for the afternoon to put Ireland 32-11 in front going into the final minutes.
After Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray was sin-binned to leave Ireland with 13 men, England reduced the arrears with a consolation score.
Wing May claimed his 33rd international try wide on the left, with the successful conversion making it 32-18.
Additional reporting, PA
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now