Rugby World Cup 2015: England beat Ireland in final warm-up
|England (12) 21|
|Tries: May, Watson Con: Ford Pens: Ford, Farrell 2|
|Ireland (3) 13|
|Try: O'Connell Con: Sexton Pens: Sexton 2|
England will go into their home World Cup in winning fashion after they eased past Ireland at Twickenham.
Fine Jonny May and Anthony Watson tries put England 12-3 up before May had a try disallowed for a forward pass.
George Ford took it out to 15-3 but Ireland cut the gap to two points as Paul O'Connell powered over and Johnny Sexton converted and added a penalty.
England looked worried but re-established control and Owen Farrell wrapped up victory with two penalties.
Stuart Lancaster's men start their World Cup campaign back at Twickenham against Fiji on Friday, 18 September, while Ireland face Canada the following day.
Does either side look like potential world champions?
Ireland will go into the World Cup on the back of two straight defeats, something England at least avoided.
England's cutting edge out wide is razor sharp but the current pack - it is a long time since a Red Rose scrum lost two against the head as they did on Saturday - is still to convince it can lay the foundations for global domination.
Ireland were outplayed for long periods but can be pleased with their refusal to fold, and in O'Connell they have a warrior to rally around.
England go on the 'B' of the bang
The hosts started in explosive fashion, dominating territory and possession and playing with a pace that Ireland just could not live with.
May, in electric attacking form all afternoon, opened the scoring as he took Ben Youngs' classy pass, blasted through Tommy Bowe and dismissed the tackle of Simon Zebo on his way to the line.
Soon after, Ford's hanging kick gave Watson the chance to win an aerial duel and with Ford converting the first score, England led 12-3.
It should have been all over soon after but Tom Youngs' scoring pass to May was forward, and having that score disallowed seemed to affect England's confidence.
But Ireland have them worried...
Early in the second half Ford did nudge England into a 15-3 lead with a penalty but Sexton immediately replied in kind before iconic Ireland captain O'Connell silenced Twickenham.
The veteran second row bullied his way over from close range and with Sexton converting, England's hopes of going into the World Cup on a winning note looked as though they might suffer a major blow.
They started losing their own scrums, passes failed to go to hand, turnovers began to be conceded and any chances they did create could not be taken.
In the end it was the boot of replacement fly-half Farrell that calmed home nerves and his brace of penalties ensured England will at least take some momentum into the World Cup.
Man of the match - Wood or May?
Northampton flanker Tom Wood may well have claimed one of the few available places left in Lancaster's starting XV to face Fiji.
It has been a toss up between Wood and Wasps' James Haskell for the number six shirt, and the Saints man could well have the edge after an energetic performance that earned him the man of the match award.
But May can count himself unlucky not to take that accolade, showing his offensive and defensive prowess and almost certainly ensuring he will feature in two weeks' time.
The Gloucester wing gained 81 metres overall, beat three defenders and made seven tackles - as well as scorching over for one try and being denied another by the referee.
What they said
England coach Stuart Lancaster: "It's a results-based business and I understand that, but I think this team is ready.
"There are six or seven teams who could win it - I would add to the list Ireland, Australia, Wales, New Zealand, South Africa, the list goes on - and whoever does win it will have to put together a run of six or seven performances on the bounce.
"That's our challenge as well, but playing at Twickenham the way we did against Ireland, we're a hard team to beat."
England captain Chris Robshaw: "We were not quite clinical enough. The second half we came out of the blocks pretty slow, but overall we are pretty pleased."
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: "The score probably flattered us a bit. We couldn't get the ball in the first 25 minutes.
"They really had us under the hammer and went through long periods of possession and only our scrum enabled us to hang in there.
"Getting back to 15-13 reflected a bit of the spirit in the side."
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell: "I wouldn't say alarm bells will be ringing but we are very disappointed. The last three games we've fallen short on the things we wanted to do.''
And what about social media?
England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Barritt, May; Ford, B Youngs; Marler, T Youngs, Cole, Lawes, Parling, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan.
Replacements: Burgess for Barritt (69), George for T Youngs (59), Wigglesworth for B Youngs (59), M Vunipola for Marler (55), Brookes for Cole (61), B Vunipola for Morgan (55), Launchbury for Parling (60), Farrell for Ford (60).
Ireland: Zebo; Bowe, Payne, Henshaw, D Kearney; Sexton, Murray; J McGrath, Best, Ross, Toner, O'Connell, O'Mahony, O'Brien, Heaslip.
Replacements: Furlong for Zebo (69), Madigan for Henshaw (59), Cave for D Kearney (59), Reddan for Murray (18), Strauss for Best (60), White for Ross (59), Ryan for O'Connell (65), Henry for O'Brien (60).
Ref: Nigel Owens (Wales).