Ireland headed to England on Saturday for their second Autumn Nations Cup match, after their 32-9 victory over Wales a week earlier.
Without Conor Murray or Johnny Sexton in the starting lineup, Ireland looked to place their trust in the relatively untested pairing of Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne, both of whom had only started once previously.
Despite the international inexperience of the halfback pairing, it was up front where Ireland were under the most pressure for much of the first half.
Catastrophic stuff from Ireland at the set-piece so far.#ENGvIRE
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) November 21, 2020
It makes no sense to keep calling balls far middle and back here. He's a young hooker, give him some ball at the front, get his confidence up and get him and the pack into the game here. Primary objective has to win the ball at all costs, wherever it is.#ENGvIRE
— Duncan Casey (@BigDunc123) November 21, 2020
Ireland lost three of their lineouts, two of which deep in the England half, and the ball that they did win at the lineout was scrappy and did not provide a good platform to attack from.
Ireland have used at least six hookers in the past two years, and lineout has been a consistent issue in that time.
You can talk about bad throwing all you want, but the problem goes way deeper.
Also, the presence of Donnacha Ryan won't instantly make it better... #ENGvIRE
— Neil Treacy (@neil_treacy) November 21, 2020
...Ireland need to consider switching up at hooker to shore up the lineout maybe Henderson on as well 🏉 #ENGvIRE
— Mike Friday (@MikeFriday09) November 21, 2020
Ireland's only real chance in the first half came off the back of a powerful Keith Earls run, which was a near certain try if he was able to get his pass off inside.
It was not to be, however, as England were ultimately awarded the penalty for not releasing on the ground.
📌 "He is unbelievably powerful, he blows me away just watching him train, how quick and explosive he is" 🏉 Munster senior coach Stephen Larkham on Keith Earls this week. Prime example of it few minutes ago. Unfortunate break doesn't end with a try #ENGvIRE #AutumnNationsCup
— Colm Kinsella (@ckSportLeader) November 21, 2020
Apart from the one moment of brilliance from Earls, Ireland were criticised by many supporters for their apparent inability to adapt their attack more successfully.
With all of the possession, Ireland never really challenged England to make too many difficult tackles.
Been a lack of any guile so far. Can’t just keep on ploughing into the defensive line again and again and expect different results. Missing Sexton’s ingenuity. #ENGvIRE
— Dan Kerins (@dankerins) November 21, 2020
England are an excellent side, but at what point does someone in the Ireland camp suggest something other than endless phases of energy-sapping one-out stuff in the hope that a sidestep might come off?#ENGvIRE
— Eoghan Sweeney (@buileshuibhne) November 21, 2020
As the first half drew to a close, the overarching opinion of supporters was that, at 12-0 down to England in Twickenham, we had see this film before.
This is a 12-0 paddling. We have seen how the movie ends before....#ENGvIRE
— Ger Gilroy (@gergilroy) November 21, 2020
— Nic Keaney (@NicKeaney) November 21, 2020
Ireland were all over England for most of the second half, building up a huge amount of pressure deep in the English half.
Despite having to make almost three times as many tackles as their visitors, England kept out the Irish, who looked uninspired on attack throughout the match.
England's defence has been on the money. Underhill and Curry are picking and choosing when to be absolute pests at the breakdown. #ENGvIRE
— Jenny Murphy (@jennymurphy045) November 21, 2020
In the final five minutes, the moment of inspiration came, with Jacob Stockdale and Billy Burns combining to get Ireland's first points of the game.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) November 21, 2020
This would be the only moment of magic for the Irish, as there was simply too much to do in such a short time left on the clock.
The final play summed up Ireland's night, with a lost lineout in good position ultimately going England's way, before the ball went dead and England were victorious.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) November 21, 2020