England 21 - 10 Ireland: England’s happy homecoming

England's wing Mike Brown dives over to score a try against Ireland. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
England's wing Mike Brown dives over to score a try against Ireland. Picture: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
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ENGLAND will approach their likely Six Nations title decider against Wales with head coach Eddie Jones observing a self-imposed media blackout.

Jones is smarting at the reaction to comments he made about Johnny Sexton, in which he referenced the Ireland stand-off’s parents, during the build up to Saturday’s game.

The Australian plans to end his silence on the eve of a match that could see England crowned champions with a round to spare, a scenario that will unfold if Wales are dispatched and Scotland beat France at BT Murrayfield.

During a feisty exchange with journalists after Ireland had been comprehensively beaten in the most impressive display of his brief reign, Jones defended his claim that Sexton’s parents “would be worried” about the whiplash injury he suffered against France.

“From this press conference onwards I’m putting a media ban on myself. I don’t want to do any scaremongering or do anything that offends the media or offends people’s 
parents,” Jones said.

“From here until next Friday before the Wales game I’m not talking to the media. So no-one will have to worry about scaremongering and all that type of thing. Mate, if I don’t say anything you come away from the press conference and say it’s boring. If I say something I’m scaremongering. I can’t win, so the easiest way is that I don’t come to the media conference.”

When asked if he regretted mentioning Sexton’s parents, Jones replied: “I don’t regret anything. Why would I regret it? Ireland said he had whiplash injuries, not me. It’s a sideshow, it’s finished. The main event is over, we’re not talking about the sideshow any more.”

Tries from Anthony Watson and Mike Brown helped England to a deserved victory on Saturday. From the start England were standing flatter and putting greater pace on the ball and were clearly benefiting from the readjustment of their attack.

Number eight Billy Vunipola was outstanding once again, while Maro Itoje produced a forceful full debut.

England led only 6-3 at half-time thanks to two Owen Farrell penalties – a poor return given their dominance – but were impressive in the second quarter before successfully holding out against a resurgent Ireland.

Ireland finished the first half with a flourish, centre Stuart McCloskey bursting into space before Jamie Heaslip kicked the ball away down the right.

A line-out steal by Itoje ensured an Irish penalty was wasted but they persevered with the same ambitious tactic when James Haskell had been sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Conor Murray.

This time Ireland won the set-piece and Murray was able to collect and touch down. Once Sexton had converted, Ireland led 10-6, but a Farrell penalty kept the rivals neck and neck.

Vunipola was becoming increasingly influential, using his power to break the gainline as England pounded away deep in opposition territory.

Hartley saw a try discounted because of a double movement, but Ireland were finding it impossible to escape their own 22.

Vunipola swept England out of danger with a scrum pick up before Ben Youngs flattened Sexton and when the fly-half dropped the ball, the home side seized the moment to score their first try.

Brown and Vunipola were involved in the build-up and once Youngs had almost slipped through, a long pass from Chris Robshaw sent Watson over in the corner.

Five minutes later England crossed for a second time, benefiting from the hands of twin playmakers George Ford and Farrell whose rapid passing allowed Brown to stroll across the whitewash.

Danny Care was sent to the sin-bin for a technical infringement and despite ­Ireland’s late surge, England’s try-line remained intact.

Scorers: England: Tries: Watson, Brown. Con: Farrell. Pens: Farrell 3. Ireland: Try: Murray. Con: Sexton. Pen: Sexton.

England: Brown, Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Nowell, Ford, Youngs, Marler, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola. Subs: George, M Vunipola, Hill, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly, Goode..

Ireland: Kearney, Trimble, Henshaw, McCarthy, Earls, Sexton, Murray, McGrath, Best, Ross, Ryan, Toner, Stander, Van der Flier, Heaslip. Subs: Strauss, Healy, White, Dillane, Ruddock, Reddan, Madigan, Zebo.

Referee: R Poite (France). Attendance: 82,000.