Ireland came a step closer to defending their Six Nations crown after a resounding home victory over an inconsistent England. England succumbed to the Irish, who, with four penalties from the boot of Jonathan Sexton, 29, and a second-half try from centre Robbie Henshaw, reflected the one-sidedness of the match.

Ireland outplayed England in all areas of the field, as they attacked with pace in a high-intensity performance. England side started slowly and were soon on the back foot; the Red Roses looked ill-disciplined and prone to mistakes, whilst Sexton kicked two penalties to give Ireland an early six-point lead.

Bath fly-half George Ford, 21, answered with a drop-goal on England's first venture foreword, but Sexton's third simple penalty made it 9-3, and Ireland looked in control at the interval. Ireland again started the second period the stronger of the two, with Jonathan Sexton kicking his fourth penalty from a Dave Attwood, 27, offside decision.

Conor Murray, whose kicks were right on target throughout the match, sent a box kick into the corner of the field, which was then claimed by a terrific catch by Henshaw, who bundled over and scored a try. Sexton then converted from out wide, to make the score 19-3 and the game really was out of sight for England. Two penalties from Ford, then reduced the deficit to ten points at 19-9, as the game moved in to a more even affair during the last twenty minutes.

This match will go down as one of the most chastening defeats of England under Stuart Lancaster, as they would have been buoyed by their unbeaten start to the tournament, but were very much outclassed by the favourites of the Six Nations.

The Shamrock face a testing month, as they have trips to Wales and Scotland. This was their record-equalling tenth consecutive Test victory, and Joe Shmidt's men will travel to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on 14th March with optimism, still positioned firmly in the driving seat to retain their crown and win a second consecutive Grand Slam title, in a World Cup year.