The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
The success was even sweeter as Marland Yarde’s late try earned the side a vital bonus point that suggests a much simpler match than it was.
A succession of penalties against England kept their rivals in the game, with the kicking of Paddy Jackson and his replacement James McKinney keeping Ireland within touching distance throughout the match.
It looked set to be a totally different game when just two minutes in, Worcester wing Andy Short flew over in the corner after quick play from a scrum deep in Irish territory, with Leicester Tigers fly half George Ford converting.
Two penalties from Ford after infringements at the breakdown left England cruising with a 13-0 advantage after only 20 minutes but gradually Niall Annett and his team-mates grew into the game and were rewarded for their efforts when Jackson kicked a penalty with his third attempt.
England thought they had added to the scoreline when a Ford grubber kick was taken over the try line by Short, but South African referee Jaco Peyper deemed the ball had not been grounded.
Andrew Conway then went over to reduce Ireland’s arrears to just three points and even though Henry Thomas went over for a try late on in the first- half, another penalty from Jackson meant the sides went in at 18-13.
Having gone into the break much closer than they could have expected after their dreadful start, Ireland came out all guns blazing and a thunderous breakthrough by Ulster centre Luke Marshall in the opening few minutes of the second half put them on the front foot.
Their forwards began having more influence on proceedings, with scrum-half Kieran Marmion distributing the ball around the field masterfully and they were rewarded with another well-struck penalty by Jackson.
As things became very tense on the pitch and on the sidelines for England, who had seen their 13 point lead cut to just two, a lovely sidestep and brute strength allowed Saracens prop Mako Vunipola to score a superb solo try and ease some nerves, despite Ford’s conversion attempt hitting the post.
With England hoping to have finally put pay to their opponents, replacement fly-half James McKinney got in on the scoring, drilling over one penalty before some ill-disciplined defending awarded him with two more penalties in quick succession and the opportunity to edge his side towards an unlikely victory.
Having wrestled the lead out of England’s grasp with only ten minutes to go, Ireland’s own discipline started to let them down as they tried to hang on, first with Marmion giving away a penalty at a ruck which handed the lead back to England and then back rower Shane Buckley was sinbinned after losing his temper in another ruck.
The remaining 14 men continued to battle for a match winning opportunity but their fate was sealed when Yarde went over to make it 33-25 and snatch that all important bonus point from under Ireland’s nose.
Next up for England is Scotland, who were beaten 33-0 by South Africa on Friday, while Ireland have a must-win game against South Africa. Both games are in Treviso on Tuesday.