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England back to winning ways at Fortress Twickenham
In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy taps her heels three times to return to Kansas in one of Hollywood’s most famous film endings. While Stuart Lancaster’s footwear might not be as magical, he’ll be repeating that same famous phrase as Dorothy over and over: “There’s no place like home”.
England’s coach watched his team thoroughly enjoy themselves at Fortress Twickenham against Ireland, the RBS 6 Nations champions ranked third in the world, three places above his own side.
There really is no place like home as England dominate Ireland with an impressive display at just at the right time.
It was England’s 75th victory over the Emerald Isle but, more importantly, it was the style in which they won after their slip-up in Paris two weeks ago.
England’s lions were decidedly not lacking courage; Chris Robshaw once again led by example with a colossus defensive display – 18 tackles and none missed.
Alongside man of the match Tom Wood and the impressive Ben Morgan, England’s skipper formed a dominant back row that bossed their opponents at the breakdown.
Their scrum-loving team-mates were just as reliable, with the set-piece returning to the rock-solid platform that we all know it to be, while Geoff Parling’s calming presence ensured the lineout was once again the well-oiled machine we’ve appreciated all season.
And it wasn’t just the forwards – England’s backs were just as potent.
The Ben Youngs and George Ford axis took it upon themselves to manage the game from nine and 10; the audacious, laser-guided cross-field kick from Ford to Bath team-mate Anthony Watson was worth the ticket price alone.
And in Jonny May, England have a livewire with pace that wouldn’t be out of place on an athletics track. Whatever the winger ate for breakfast clearly worked as his early try set the agenda after only five minutes.
With May, Watson and Jack Nowell scoring tries for fun, England have an abundance of riches out wide, something the rest of the world will have noted.
Equally, Lancaster’s game management must also be applauded, using his riches on the bench at just the right time.
England’s double Vunipola trump card was pulled at the just right time in the second half, with both brothers carrying hard and adding much-needed impetus at crucial stages when Ireland were threatening to pounce.
Meanwhile, Owen Farrell’s metronomic goal kicking ensured Ireland paid for their transgressions.
With a few question marks hanging above heads going into the game, England delivered answers in abundance in front of 80,138 passionate fans at their fortress, their headquarters, their Kansas.
There really is no place like home.