Rugby Union: Geoghegan the live wire: Robert Low discusses a telling contribution from the Irish match-winner

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The Independent Online
FIRST Rory, now Tony. If the Underwood brothers have a doll they stick pins in on their mum's mantelpiece it probably looks a lot like Simon Geoghegan. It was the Irish winger who brushed Rory aside to score in his first international against England at Lansdowne Road three years ago. Yesterday it was Tony's turn to get the full treatment at Twickenham, where Ireland defeated England 13-12.

'I was just pleased and frankly rather surprised to get the ball in so much space,' Geoghegan said of his try. 'I found I had a lot of room, and I noticed Jonathan Callard coming across to cover so I checked as if to go inside, then pinned my ears back and went hell for leather for the line.'

Of his match-winning intervention in the second half he said: 'Callard tried to chip me. I was in two minds whether to hold on to it or hoof it up the field. I decided to kick and Rob Andrew gave away the penalty.

'It was a tremendous performance, particularly by the forwards. They were superb. Paddy Johns, Neil Francis and Mick Galwey won some tremendous ball in the line-out and pressured England so what ball they got was very scrappy.

'We just didn't allow them to play. Remember, we only had three changes from the side that beat England in Dublin last year. England had eight. Our game plan was to test the England back three with an aerial bombardment. But the idea was also to get the ball out wide if we got it quickly.'

Ireland's manager, Noel Murphy, was delighted. 'This result proves we are a good side,' he said. 'The pattern was to play it tight and try to drive forward. The forwards did very well in the rucks and mauls.'

The Irish coach, Gerry Murphy, said: 'The championship is a very close thing this year. The gap that England and France opened up a couple of years ago is closing. We are getting very close, competitive international rugby. We have worked very hard on our defence in the last nine months. The way the game is set up at the moment, if 15 players are defending well, try-scoring opportunities are few and far between.'

This point was taken up by the England manager, Geoff Cooke, who said: 'Under the new laws it's easier to set your stall out to stop the opposition. We did it against New Zealand.

'The line-out becomes crucial. We are not securing good clean ball on our own throw. We can't control the ball if we don't do that.

'The bare fact is that we didn't play very well and we didn't get away with it this time.'

The only plus point for England at the moment is the standard of the community singing which now rivals that of Cardiff Arms Park both in volume and control. But the only strains lingering on in the Twickenham stands last night were those of 'Molly Malone'. Irish rugby is certainly alive, alive-O.

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