The National Times - Ireland beat 14-man England after Ewels' record red card

Ireland beat 14-man England after Ewels' record red card

Ireland beat 14-man England after Ewels' record red card
Ireland beat 14-man England after Ewels' record red card

Ireland kept their Six Nations title hopes alive with a hard-fought 32-15 win over 14-man England at Twickenham on Saturday after home lock Charlie Ewels received the quickest red card in Championship history.

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Ewels was sent off after just 82 seconds for a dangerous head-on-head clash with Irish second row James Ryan.

Yet with 20 minutes left, England were level at 15-15 through the boot of fly-half Marcus Smith -- who scored all their points -- before Ireland pulled clear with tries from replacements Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham following first-half scores from James Lowe and Hugo Keenan.

Ireland must now hope England deny France a Grand Slam in Paris in next week's final round of matches, when the Irish are at home to Scotland.

Ewels, in a match England had to win to maintain their title bid after an opening day defeat by Scotland, was sent off in just the second minute by French referee Mathieu Raynal for a clash with Ryan that saw the Ireland second row leave the game injured.

Amid huge jeers from a capacity Twickenham crowd incensed by the decision, even though Raynal had little choice, recalled Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton kicked the visitors into a 3-0 lead from the penalty.

Just four minutes later, Ireland were 8-0 ahead.

Scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park found Dan Sheehan and the hooker's fine pass sent flanker Josh van der Flier through a gap.

The openside then released Lowe, with the left wing sprinting in from 40 metres for a try in the corner.

If the crowd were incensed by Ewels' red card, his dismissal also had the effect of firing up England, who eventually regrouped.

England's pack, with lock Maro Itoje impressing after missing training Friday through illness, forced a scrum penalty that Smith kicked.

After Smith had missed with a second attempt, the Harlequins rising star landed a 45-metre effort eight minutes before the break to cut Ireland's lead to two points at 8-6.

But Ireland opened up England's defence again when Gibson-Park's quick tap penalty allowed Keenan to dash over for a try converted by Sexton.

Smith's third successful penalty, on the stroke of half-time, meant England were just six points adrift at the break.

Brilliant ruck defence, with the crowd chanting England's unofficial anthem of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' between raucous cheers in a bid to inspire the home side, denied Ireland a third try early in the second half.

The cheers were even louder when, following Smith's high kick, a quick England chase led to a ruck penalty from 25 metres.

Smith was on target for the fourth time and England were a mere three points behind.

Another towering kick from Smith was knocked on by Keenan to give England a scrum on the edge of Ireland's 22.

England forced another scrum penalty which Smith kicked to tie the scores at 15-15.

But a rare England infringement in front of their posts allowed Sexton to restore Ireland's lead at 18-15.

Desperate England defence kept Ireland at bay before Conan put the game beyond their reach with a try seven minutes from time that Sexton converted to put the visitors' two scores ahead at 25-15 before Bealham forced his way over for a bonus-point try.