The top sides once again featured a string of PUMA Rugby stars looking to make their mark. Here is our summary of the best action from Dublin.
Ireland 9 – 20 England
England secured their first victory on Irish soil in eight years and avenged the demons of grand slam defeat suffered in March. The performance will give hope to Martin Johnson and his men after a lacklustre showing against Wales two weeks ago.
England fielded a new-look centre pairing with the stand-in captain and PUMA’s rising star Manu Tuilagi in midfield, whilst PUMA and England’s number 8 talisman, Nick Easter, was replaced late in the day after failing a fitness test on a calf strain.
England got off to a dream start with a rampant Tuilagi cutting through the Irish defence to score in the 5th minute. The deficit was soon reduced to four points after a late tackle gifted Ireland a penalty on 9 minutes.
Ireland began to show some of the attacking prowess that saw them dominate England earlier in the year with a good move out wide. Unfortunately, the move ended with a crunching tackle on David Wallace, which saw him stretchered off with a knee injury, ruling him out of the World Cup.
As the rain continued to lash down, England went into halftime with a 13 – 9 advantage and took the impetus soon after, when a clever grubber kick was chased down in the corner on 46 minutes to extend their lead with only 14 men on the field.
This turned out to be the final points in what was a scrappy, but intensely physical encounter that left Ireland with several questions and England with several positives. Ireland will surely be smarting from four consecutive defeats as England may just have uncovered its next World Cup superstar in Manu Tuilagi.
Do you think Tuilagi will grab the headlines in New Zealand?!