Match Centre: Ireland 32-18 England

Johnny Sexton contributed with 22 points
Johnny Sexton contributed with 22 points
©Steve Haag

Ireland 32-18 England, Aviva Stadium

Ireland managed to finish their Six Nations campaign on a high as they defeated England 32-18 in the final round at Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The victory for Andy Farrell's men came despite them losing Bundee Aki to red card in the 64th minute while Conor Murray was sin-binned in the closing stage. This was also the final game in Ireland jersey for Conor Murray, who is set to retire at end of the season and his side gave a fitting farewell to him.

The result meant Ireland now move to the second place in the table after registering their third win from five games while England finish their disappointing campaign with a fourth position after losing three out of their five games.

England were forced with a late change to the game as Max Malins missed out due to injury forcing Eddie Jones to restore Elliot Daly to fullback and Ollie Lawrence in the midfield. Leicester Tigers' George Martin was drafted on to the bench to take Lawrence's position.

An early infringement from Ireland saw Tadhg Furlong penalised and England were given an opportunity to open their account which skipper Owen Farrell kicked in the 9th minute to take them to a 0-3 lead and the home side responded with a three-pointer from Johnny Sexton to level the scores by the 18th minute.

At the end of the first quarter, Ireland suffered an injury blow with Dave Kilcoyne leaving the field with a head knock and Cian Healy replacing him. Nevertheless, it did not hamper their momentum as they went on to score the opening try of the game as Keith Earls collected a throw from Jack Conan at the back of a line out and went past Jonny May to dot down. Sexton's conversion took Ireland to a 10-3 lead.

Ireland maintained their seven point lead as Farrell and Sexton traded penalties and took control just before the break as they capitalised on an infringement from the visitors Hugo Keenan beat Daly to a high ball before passing to Conan, who went over from close range and with the Irish skipper improving the opening half ended with a 20-6 scoreline.

Jones had brought Jamie George and Ellis Genge at the start of the second half but it did little to stop the home side as Sexton spotted a gap in England defence and sends a crossfield kick to Earls, who finished beautifully again but was denied as the referee spotted a knock on in the build up. Another Sexton penalty in the 51st minute saw Ireland extend their lead to 23-6.

The troubles compounded for England as Farrell was replaced in the 56th minute for a Head Injury Assessment following an accidental clash on Henderson and a fourth penalty kick from Sexton in the 62nd minute took the scoreline to 26-6. England though were given a great opportunity as Ireland were down to 14-men in the 64th minute after Aki was red-carded for a high tackle on Billy Vunipola.

With the numerical advantage on their side, England responded immediately as from the resulting line out drive, George peels off the maul and feeds to Ben Youngs, who went over beating Stander. Daly missed the conversion though. Any chance of a England comeback was put off by Sexton, who kicked back to back penalties in the 69th and 74th minute before Ireland were down to 13-men in the 78th minute with Murray this time sin-binned for an offside allowing England to score a consolation try through May.

Team line up:

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Jonathan Sexton (capt), Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan.

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Ryan Baird, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 Jamison Gibson Park, 22 Billy Burns, 23 Jordan Larmour.

England: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Ollie Lawrence, Owen Farrell, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Charlie Ewels, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Dan Robson, 22 George Martin, 23 Joe Marchant