Niall Crozier: Take a Bowe Ireland, it is not over yet

Was Paris just a blip? Who can say with total conviction?

Having now watched Ireland play France and England over the last two weeks, I know where I'd put my money if forced to choose between them.



France outmuscled Ireland, punished mistakes with ruthless efficiency and won the forwards' battle hands down. England did none of those things.



And Ireland found sizeable gaps in the English defence, witness three tries. They only got one in Paris.



Ireland deserved to beat England because they worked tirelessly, as a tackle count of 99 made and only one missed attests, and they were more clinical in that they actually played second fiddle in terms of possession and territory.



They started and finished on a high, scoring tries in the opening and dying minutes.



The first of Tommy Bowe's two fine touchdowns came with only three minutes on the clock following a break by the excellent Jamie Heaslip and a pinpoint grubber by Jonathan Sexton, making his RBS 6 Nations debut.



The fact that he was taken out after threading a perfect ball in behind England's vulnerable left wing, Ugo Moyne, did not faze him.



He received treatment, got up, took the conversion and although he missed, that also failed to bother him.



It wasn't his only miscue off the tee on what was a difficult day for the Irish kicker and his English counterpart, Jonny Wilkinson, with the wind - and at times the rain - conspiring to thwart both of them.



Wilkinson missed two second half penalties; Sexton, in the course of the afternoon, missed two conversions and a brace of penalties.



That said, he did enough that was good to vindicate Declan Kidney's bold decision to include him ahead of Ronan O'Gara.



Certainly Bowe saw a lot more of the ball courtesy of Sexton than was the case in either of the opening two matches in which O'Gara wore the number 10 jersey.



Ireland deserve credit for much of what they did, and criticism for some things too. Once again their concession of penalties was a problem as a count of 14-6 in England's favour shows.



And there were times when they worked themselves to within striking distance of the English line but Ireland failed to make those visits deep into the hosts' 22 count.



On the plus side it was impressive to see how they responded when, in the 71st minute, they slipped into arrears for the first time in the match.



Having lost skipper Brian O'Driscoll six minutes earlier when Paul O'Connell's knee banged into his head, the concession of the drop goal which put England 16-13 up was a massive double whammy.



Here Declan Kidney earned his wages, both for his tactical nous and his man-management skills, for four of those he introduced from the bench - O'Gara, Leo Cullen, both of whom he had dropped, Shane Jennings and Eoin Reddan - figured prominently in the creation of a superb match-winning try by Bowe.



O'Gara's conversion meant a penalty or drop goal was no good to England.



In between Bowe's brace, Ireland's other winger, Keith Earls, went over for a 55th minute score after a well-worked move.



With the pack applying the pressure and recycling the ball close to the line, half-backs Tomas O'Leary and Sexton picked the lock with two slick passes and Earls was in.



England responded five minutes later with a video-confirmed try by tighthead Dan Cole to reward good work by his pack, with Wilkinson converting to tie the scores at 13-13.



Tense, dramatic, passionate, exciting, bruising.



So a blip in Paris? Probably; this team isn't a spent force just yet.

Sourced from: The Belfast Telegraph

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms