Unfazed Farrell kicks England to gritty victory


ICE-COOL fly-half Owen Farrell played down the pressure of kicking England to victory in the cauldron of Dublin’s Aviva Stadium yesterday after his penalties cemented their RBS Six Nations favourites’ status.

The 21-year-old landed two kicks in each half as England overcame energy-sapping conditions and a fiercely competitive Ireland side to make it two wins from two.

“If you practise enough it is only another kick and it’s no different in the stadium,” said Farrell. “The conditions weren’t great but we rolled our sleeves up and got stuck in.”

England’s gritty triumph was in stark contrast to last weekend’s stylish demolition of Scotland but every bit as welcome, coming 10 years since their last victory in Dublin, and leaves them top of the table.

Farrell slotted the visitors in front after just three minutes and added another penalty on the half-hour, while Irish hopes were hit by injuries to Simon Zebo and Jonathan Sexton.

Both sides were fortunate to avoid yellow cards, Ireland No8 Cian Healy for a stamp on Dan Cole that sparked a skirmish, and Farrell for dragging back scrum-half Conor Murray.

The hosts were handed a lifeline four minutes after the break, when England were penalised for collapsing the scrum and Ronan O’Gara despatched the penalty.

England then lost flanker James Haskell to the sin-bin, and O’Gara took advantage to kick Ireland level.

Manu Tuilagi went closest to a try when an unkind bounce from Ben Youngs’s chip saw the ball evade his grasp, but a penalty, which Farrell converted, proved adequate consolation and another successful kick from the youngster sealed the win.