Six Nations: England set new benchmark with intensity in dramatic win over Ireland, says Steve Borthwick

England secured a famous win over Ireland at Twickenham (AFP via Getty Images)
England secured a famous win over Ireland at Twickenham (AFP via Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick believes England have set the benchmark for their new era with a breakthrough 23-22 win over Ireland.

Marcus Smith’s last-gasp drop-goal broke Irish hearts and set Twickenham rocking, with the Harlequins super sub wheeling his arms around in madcap celebrations at full-time.

England outscored Ireland three tries to two, stunning Andy Farrell’s previously peerless operators and thwarting their bid for successive Six Nations Grand Slams.

Ireland were odds on and looked for all the world ready to storm to back-to-back clean sweeps, which would have been a record for the Six Nations era.

The Red Rose men had vowed to defend their home turf in classic Englishman and castle fashion though, and captain Jamie George led from the front for a statement victory.

Ollie Lawrence, George Furbank and Ben Earl crossed for England’s tries, while James Lowe bagged a brace for the Irish.

England boss Borthwick was left vindicated by expanding the Red Rose gameplan after the World Cup, devising new systems for both defence and attack.

And the former England captain insisted his side have set a new standard with the thrilling win over Ireland.

“The intensity that the players had from the first minute to the last minute, that was a step forward,” said Borthwick.

“I think that’s going to become something that’s a hallmark of this team – the intensity with which they play. Tactically in the middle of the game, Ireland adjusted what they did in that middle third.

“They changed a little bit from how they had intended to play. They were very smart in what they did and it needed a big adjustment from our team on the grass, led by Jamie.

“In Test rugby you’ve got to find a way to win, and that’s something we’ve been able to do again here.

“I believe we’ll continue to improve as a team, we will be better. But finding a way to win from different situations is important, and that’s what the team did again tonight.”

England lost Henry Slade to a leg knock and Chandler Cunningham-South to a calf injury, but Ollie Chessum looked to have shaken off an arm problem.

Cunningham-South is unlikely to be ready in time for England’s final Six Nations match, next Saturday’s clash against France in Lyon.

England have won three matches already in this year’s tournament – the most in one single championship for the first time since 2020.

Steve Borthwick’s side delivered the gameplan to perfection (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
Steve Borthwick’s side delivered the gameplan to perfection (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

The Red Rose men now even have an outside chance of claiming the title, though that would require Scotland to beat Ireland in Dublin next weekend.

Borthwick and Ireland boss Andy Farrell exchanged heated words on the touchline and continued that disagreement walking down the tunnel at half-time.

Borthwick insisted the issue was done and dusted straight away however, and paid tribute to his old team-mate and Lions coaching partner.

“It’s absolutely fine, Andy and I have known each other for a long time,” said Borthwick.

“We go back a long way, what he has done with that Ireland team is incredible, very special, they are an incredible team and I thought today was a very special Test match.

“What happened was between Andy and me. I know people want to read things into it, but Andy and I have a very good relationship.

“We were co-captains at Saracens together as players, we coached together on the Lions in 2017 and I have incredible respect for what he has done with that team.”