LONDON – England issued a powerful statement ahead of the Rugby World Cup when it overwhelmed Ireland by a record 57-15 margin at Twickenham on Saturday.
England scored eight tries to Ireland’s two to eclipse its 46-6 win in Dublin in 1997 for the most points scored and largest margin of victory against its Six Nations rival.
“This was a performance for the 80 minutes but we don’t know where Ireland are in their preparation so it can be misleading,” England coach Eddie Jones said.
The Irish were left questioning whether a team that labored to third place in the Six Nations was moving in reverse.
“We are nowhere near where we need to be,” Ireland captain Rory Best said. “The only upside is that it is the middle of August and not the middle of September.”
At the heart of England’s second triumph in three warmup tests was man of the match Manu Tuilagi, who bristled with power and intent to torment an Irish defense that fell to pieces in the second half.
Ireland scored first through a Jordan Larmour try, but its hopes of a win that would lift it to No. 1 in the world rankings, past Wales, quickly disintegrated.
The greatest danger England faced was not from Ireland but sunburn, as Twickenham roasted in temperatures that peaked at 30. But England was prepared for broiling conditions having spent 10 days in a heat camp in Treviso, Italy.
Maro Itoje and Billy Vunipola were magnificent up front, while George Ford made a strong case to reclaim the flyhalf duties for the World Cup in Japan next month.
After England didn’t notch a try against Wales in Cardiff last weekend, wing Joe Cokanasiga scored a try in each half, and there were more touchdowns, some of them too easy, from Elliot Daly, Tuilagi, Itoje, George Kruis, Tom Curry, and Luke Cowan-Dickie. Owen Farrell kicked 15 points and England led 22-10 at halftime.
To add misfortune to misery, Ireland also came off worse on the injury count as prop Cian Healy suffered an ankle injury and scrumhalf Conor Murray was withdrawn at halftime after having passed a head injury assessment earlier.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had hoped to be celebrating his team’s first-ever ascent to No. 1 in the rankings. Instead, he looked on in horror as the Irish — almost at full-strength — were dominated.
“There’s a malaise about the team, but you can’t blame individuals,” he said.
Schmidt who will step down after the World Cup said he had expected the players to be a bit “heavy-legged”.
“It hurts right now,” he said.
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