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by Andy Blair, Chief Sports Correspondent
Ireland overcame England by a single point at Croke Park this afternoon to leave them as the only side still capable of winning the Grandslam. The game stared off relatively slowly and was desperately in need of a spark to kick start it.Â A kicking game developed and commentator Brian Moore correctly pointed out it was like being at Wimbledon.Â The first points of the game were scored on the half hour mark and it was Ronan Oâ€™Gara who converted an Irish penalty having missed his previous two attempts.Â The first half ended with the score equal after Toby Flood converted a penalty just before the break.
The game restarted in the same fashion for Oâ€™Gara as he missed another penalty, this time the post foiling his attempt.Â It was Irish captain Brian Oâ€™Driscoll who opened the scoring of the half with an unchallenged drop goal.Â England continued their terrible disciplinary record when Vickary was sin-binned making it 9 players in 4 games.Â This was in a period of sustained Irish pressure within five yards of the English line.Â And the pressure paid of when Oâ€™Driscoll took a short pass and touched down for the first try of the game. However, Oâ€™Garaâ€™s poor form with the boot continued and missed the conversion.
The game livened up when Vickary rejoined the action with both sides having breaks were well stopped by opposition defences.Â But Englandâ€™s indiscipline continued when Danny Care was sin-binned for a late tackle leaving England a man short for the last ten minutes.Â Delon Armitage added to his penalty with a try with a minute to go that was converted by Andy Goode leaving the score at 14-13 with 30 seconds to go.
England could not find the final points they needed and the game ended with some handbags between a couple of players but even that couldnâ€™t hide the fact that the game was a drab affair. But all anyone in Ireland will care about tonight is the fact they still in with a chance of the grandslam.