England produced a stylish display to secure a record-breaking 57-15 home win over Ireland in their latest Rugby World Cup warm-up match, denying the visitors a place as world number one.
For the third consecutive week, England approached a warm-up knowing their opponents could move to the top of the rankings but, after beating and then losing to Wales, they ensured the Grand Slam champions remained at the summit by routing the Irish.
The second Wales match saw just a single try scored between the two sides, yet there were a pair inside 13 minutes of an entertaining and ultimately one-sided affair at Twickenham on Saturday.
England moved out of sight late in the first half, with Manu Tuilagi influential, and ran riot after the break to record their biggest score and margin of victory against Ireland.
Joe Schmidt’s men have the opportunity to bounce back quickly against Wales next week but, in the meantime, the coach will hope for positive news on Cian Healy, who hobbled off late in the first half.
Mako Vunipola’s withdrawal in the final minutes was similarly concerning for England.
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Owen Farrell dispatched the game’s first penalty in the seventh minute, having reclaimed kicking duties from George Ford, yet there was a setback before England clicked into gear.
Jacob Stockdale dashed through on the left but his chip down the line instead teed Jordan Larmour up for a simple try, the bounce evading recovering white shirts.
However, a superb move from left to right created space for Joe Cokanasiga to get in for an impressive response.
Ireland briefly led again with a sweet 35-metre penalty from Ross Byrne, but another sweeping passage of play, after Tuilagi drew attention in the centre of the field, saw Elliot Daly saunter over in the same right corner.
Tuilagi scored himself to further stretch England’s advantage before half-time, exploiting a gap after a scrum at close range, before a fine home display continued into the second half and Maro Itoje, another impressive performer, tore a hole in the Ireland side after their latest poor lineout.
Ireland tired badly and there was no stopping the hosts, with George Kruis – later yellow-carded for a high challenge – profiting from a TMO review and then Kyle Sinckler and Sam Underhill combining beautifully for Tom Curry to score.
Cokanasiga continued his prolific start to life in England colours with a powerful second try, with Bundee Aki’s late reply followed by further humiliation as Luke Cowan-Dickie lunged over directly from another lineout.
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