England Saxons too good for Irish

Three second-half tries ensured England Saxons romped to what could be considered close to a rout over an industrious but outclassed Ireland A side. [more]

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Three second-half tries ensured England Saxons romped to what could be considered close to a rout over an industrious but outclassed Ireland A side.

After seeing off Italy 34-5 last week, the Saxons again put in a high scoring performance in front of a modest turnout at Ravenhill in Belfast.

A first-half try from hooker Dylan Hartley was accompanied by scores, albeit late in the game, from James Haskell, David Strettle and Richard Wigglesworth while Shane Geraghty kicked nine points.

While Ireland battled hard, they lacked anyone with Mike Catt’s authority and class and, even with Leicester Tigers duo Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings putting in a lot of work, the home side simply failed to live with England’s power up front.

After a bright opening quarter from Ireland, when their scrum and lineout was functioning well, a combination of the Saxons’ forward superiority and greater organisation began to take their toll.

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Leicester’s Ian Humphreys had the first chance to open the scoring after Ireland’s encouraging start, but his seventh-minute penalty came off the upright.

Even so, Ireland were still in good shape and one big hit from Stephen Ferris on Chris Jones seemed to set the template for what was to follow.

However, with rugby league convert Chev Walker popping up in contact, and the Saxons lineout beginning to disrupt Ireland’s ball, the game began to turn in the Saxons’ favour.

A period of scrappy play followed before the Saxons stretched their lead, on 31 minutes, when Richards broke on the narrow side from a lineout and linked with hooker Dylan Hartley who did well to make the corner for an unconverted score.

Ireland, though, hit back immediately and Rob Kearney spun past Walker after the home side had taken a quick penalty in a rare sortie into England’s 22.

Humphreys failed to add the points which certainly set the tone for much of the exchanges in the opening quarter of the second half.

With most of the game being played out in Irish territory, it came as little surprise when Catt’s scuffed drop goal crept over the bar to give the Saxons an 11-5 lead after 55 minutes.

Indeed the Saxons should really have further stretched their lead but Geraghty was wide with two penalty attempts as the visitors slowly strangled the life from their opponents.

Ireland’s already faint hopes were extinguished within a seven-minute period when firstly replacement James Haskell got on the end of a Catt inside pass to run over unimpeded and then winger David Strettle broke three tackles from tired defenders to coast over. Geraghty converted both to put the Saxons out of sight.

Then to further rub salt into Irish wounds, scrum half replacement Richard Wigglesworth beat about half a dozen green shirts to score under the posts. Geraghty added the simple two pointer.

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