Rugby Union: Dawson augurs well for future

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The Independent Online
Ireland A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

England A. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

AS IT had not been an auspicious weekend for England representative teams here, yesterday's completion of a second consecutive grand slam by Jack Rowell's A-men was a cause for decent celebration. Donnybrook, home of Bective Rangers and Old Wesley, was packed with around 5,000 for a physically punishing and thoroughly entertaining match.

Not that the England performance was anything special, with the exception of Matthew Dawson. Here is a senior England scrum-half of the future if ever there was one; if only his vision and tactical perspicacity in defence as much as attack had been emulated by others.

Dawson scored England's first and last tries, an entirely fitting reward. On both occasions the combination of players which helped get him there was the centre Damian Hopley and impressive No 8 Matthew Greenwood. In between, John Hall's pick- up and drive brought the other try.

These were isolated penetrative examples in an oddly pedestrian effort. Dawson excepted, the England backs constantly ran smack into heavy Irish tackling and there was a time in the second half, Ireland having closed the gap to two points, when a rare defeat began to threaten.

Ireland were a stiffer proposition than they had been in losing 47-15 at Richmond last season. Like their seniors, they had beaten Wales at A level a fortnight earlier and in defence and relentless disruption were the epitome of a hallowed tradition.

Orchestrated by Fergus Aherne, they also had an eye for attack and, occasionally, counter-attack. They began to reel in England with David Humphries' drop goal and, when England tried to repeat the move that had brought Dawson's first try, broke away for a try by Brian Walsh.

By the time Ronnie Carey scored Ireland's second try in injury time, the game had gone beyond them - though only just. 'The achievement is something to celebrate but some of the rugby was unsatisfactory,' Graham Smith, the England manager, said. 'Ireland showed that, unless you are totally organised and in control, scores are difficult to manufacture.'

It could have been worse, though. The English colleges' team had lost 20-19 on Thursday night and the students lost 19-6 yesterday lunchtime, so this win was the cause of as much relief as pleasure. 'This is the sort of match that makes players better if they heed the lessons,' Rowell, the coach, said, without sounding certain that they necessarily would.

Ireland: Tries Walsh, Carey; Penalty Humphries; Drop goal Humphries. England: Tries Dawson 2, Hall; Conversions Hull 2; Penalty Hull.

IRELAND A: A White (St Mary's College); R Carey (Dungannon), B Walsh (Constitution), M McCall (Bangor), N Woods (Blackrock College); D Humphries (Queen's University), F Aherne (Lansdowne, capt); P Soden (Constitution),W Mulcahy (Skerries), P Millar (Ballymena), J Etheridge (Northampton), D Tweed (Ballymena), K Potts (St Mary's College), N Mannion (Lansdowne), L Toland (Old Crescent). Replacements: S McKinty (Bangor) for Mannion, 25; M Ridge (Blackrock College) for Woods, 54.

ENGLAND A: P Hull (Bristol); S Hackney, S Potter (Leicester), D Hopley (Wasps), H Thorneycroft (both Northampton); P Challinor (Harlequins), M Dawson (Northampton); C Clark (Swansea), K Dunn (Wasps), D Garforth, M Johnson (both Leicester), A Blackmore (Bristol), J Hall (Bath, capt), M Greenwood (Wasps), S Ojomoh (Bath). Replacement: N Beal (Northampton) for Hopley, 80.

Referee: R Yeman (Wales).

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