England suffered their first home loss since 1999 as Ireland stunned the world champions at Twickenham.

The home side scored the only try of the first half through Matt Dawson but four penalties from Ronan O’Gara gave Ireland a 12-10 lead at the break.

Full-back Girvan Dempsey crossed in the corner to put Ireland further in front although Paul Grayson kept England in the match with a 66th-minute penalty.

England pressurised late on but could not come back despite a frantic finish.

The tension of the occasion was felt by both sides as they walked out at Twickenham, and the opening exchanges were nervy and scrappy.

England, playing their first competitive game at home since winning the World Cup, were under pressure at the set pieces from the off and were therefore unable to get their backs in play.

The line-out was the biggest problem and it allowed the visitors to dominate much of the opening period.

reland should have taken the lead after just five minutes but fly-half Ronan O’Gara missed a simple penalty from in front of the posts although he made up for his error with four penalties before the break.

England, whose attacking force was blunted by Ireland’s forwards, got on the scoreboard after superb work at an Ireland scrum.

Munster scrum-half Peter Stringer was hassled and with the ball loose, the impressive Paul Grayson fed to Matt Dawson, who touched down under the posts.

After what was probably a dressing down from coach Sir Clive Woodward at the break, England came out firing in the second half and Ben Cohen went over only for the video referee to rule out the try for a double movement.

The let-off seemed to inspire Ireland and Brian O’Driscoll made a superb break, the ball was spread wide and Leinster full-back Girvan Dempsey crossed over in the corner.

Although England’s line-out remained poor, they never gave up and substitute Mark Regan thought he crossed but he was pushed out of bounds before he could ground the ball.

Grayson added a penalty to make the score 19-13 and despite some late pressure, England could not break down the stubborn Irish.


Balshaw (Bath), Lewsey (Wasps), Robinson (Sale), Greenwood (Harlequins), Cohen (Northampton), Grayson (Northampton), Dawson (Northampton); Woodman (Gloucester), Steve Thompson (Northampton), Vickery (Gloucester), Borthwick (Bath ), Kay (Leicester), Worsley (Wasps), Hill (Saracens), Dallaglio (Wasps, capt).

Regan (Leeds Tykes), Stevens (Bath), Jones (Sale), Back (Leicester), Gomarsall (Gloucester), Barkley (Bath), Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester).

Dempsey (Leinster), Horgan (Leinster), D’Arcy (Leinster), O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), Howe (Ulster), O’Gara (Munster), Stringer (Munster); Corrigan (Leinster), Byrne (Leinster), Hayes (Munster), O’Kelly (Leinster), O’Connell (Munster), Easterby (Llanelli), Gleeson (Leinster), Foley (Munster).

Sheahan (Munster), Best (Ulster), Longwell (Ulster), Costello (Leinster), Humphreys (Ulster), Easterby (Rotherham), Maggs (Bath).