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England 23-22 Ireland: Match-winner Marcus Smith returns to England's claim

England 23-22 Ireland: Match-winner Marcus Smith returns to England's claim

  • Written by Mantej Mann
  • BBC Sport at Twickenham

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Six Nations 2024: England beats Ireland in thrilling match

“I practiced drop kicks. We had the advantage so I thought we'd go for it.”

Marcus Smith follows in the footsteps of Jonny Wilkinson and George Ford as the latest English fly-half to write his name into drop-goal folklore.

Wilkinson provided the biggest trophy ever during the 2003 World Cup final, Ford's impressive performance saw off Argentina in last year's tournament in France, while Smith's boot ended Ireland's historic dream of winning back-to-back Six Nations major titles.

Smith came off the bench to celebrate his return from injury with a last-gasp clip over the posts to give England a stunning win – after which both Ford and England kicking coach Kevin Sinfield were name-checked.

“I was very excited to be honest,” Smith told BBC Sport.

“We had an advantage in the wide channels after Mane [Feyi-Waboso] He made a devastating run, as he does in every match, and got us within 10 metres.

“Then the strikers came in and tired them out. We had another penalty advantage right in front and I was practicing scoring goals, learning from George. [Ford] And how [Sinfield]And I thought, why not?

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Six Nations 2024: Marcus Smith reacts to late drop-goal winner

This was supposed to be a Six Nations tournament for Smith to cement his place as England's No.10 after impressing at full-back as England finished third in the World Cup, but he was ruled out of the opening three matches of the competition with a calf injury. .

He replaced the usually assured Ford, who missed a penalty and converted, in the second half, and his arrival on the field appeared to have raised the level of conviction of everyone inside Twickenham in England.

Smith received the ball from Harlequin teammate Danny Kerr, who also came off the bench in his 100th Test to guide England over the line.

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Marcus Smith's goal gives England a last-minute win over Ireland

“It was lovely to get the ball from Danny on his special day,” Smith added.

“This was a tournament I was really excited about and it was an opportunity for the team to move forward after the World Cup.

“The exclusion before the first matches was disappointing, but watching the players from home on the sofa got me excited again.

“I was desperate to get back for part of the Six Nations, so I feel lucky and proud.

“We didn't get the result we wanted against Scotland, but this team will take a lot of pride and confidence from this performance.

“We challenged one of the best teams in the world for 80 minutes.

“It ebbs and flows and it's been a great spectacle for the fans. I know the boys will be very happy about it.”

“The conversation all week was about getting confidence in each other because we don't turn into a bad team overnight.

He added, “Last week was a stumbling block, but if we maintain our high standards and push each other, anything is possible. Moments like these give us hope and confidence to move forward.”

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Relive England's last-minute goal from the commentary box

Smith's impressive form will give Steve Borthwick a selection headache for the final against France, with the Six Nations title potentially still on the line.

The 25-year-old's importance to the team, especially with Owen Farrell missing at Test level, has been evident this season despite his lack of availability recently.

The home side showed greater attacking intent and renewed speed with ball in hand against Ireland than at any other time during Borthwick's tenure.

Thanks to his contribution, Smith should be in contention for a starting place at Lyon next Saturday.

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Six Nations 2024: BBC Rugby answers Oscar's quick questions

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