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England's late heroics could mark the start of the Steve Borthwick era… Their best Six Nations performance was over a country mile and is a massive step in the right direction

England's late heroics could mark the start of the Steve Borthwick era… Their best Six Nations performance was over a country mile and is a massive step in the right direction

  • England recorded a famous 23-22 win over Ireland in the Six Nations
  • Marcus Smith scored a last-gasp goal to seal the contest at Twickenham
  • Ireland were on the verge of retaining the title before the stunning finish

Not only was this England's best Six Nations performance over a country mile, it was by far their best performance of the Steve Borthwick era and the best they have produced in a very long time – perhaps since their victory over New Zealand in the World Championship. 2019 World Cup semi-final.

I wrote before the match that England had no chance of winning and that the match was about competing against the best team in the world in my view.

For England to emerge with a win, they must play close to the perfect match. What's amazing to me is that even though England beat Ireland, I still think they can play better. What a great position for the team to be in. They proved the doubters wrong.

Borthwick's men can and must still give greater impetus to their actions. But there can be no doubt that Twickenham's success against a team as good as Ireland is a massive step in the right direction for everyone in English rugby. I really hope this win marks the start of the Borthwick era.

England threw the kitchen sink at Andy Farrell's men in a fierce contest and the way they won through Marcus Smith's goal was absolutely remarkable.

England's win over Ireland was their best performance of the Steve Borthwick era
They threw the kitchen sink at Andy Farrell's men and the way they won was brilliant

The importance of this win for England should not be underestimated. I was watching the match at Twickenham, and it was a great day to be in the home of English rugby.

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Winning Grand Slams twice in a row is not easy. Even winning a Grand Slam is never easy, something I know from my coaching career.

This will hurt Ireland to no end. It will take some time to come back, even if they go on to win the title. Before this match, I wrote that for England to have any chance against Ireland, they simply had to play at a breakneck pace that would surprise their opponent.

They started well. I honestly think the Borthwick players read my column before the match because they ran off the field so quickly.

They scored a good try through Ollie Lawrence.

Ollie Lawrence scored a good try and the home side quickly came out of the blocks
England's first quarter showed they are improving – it was much better than what we saw

England's first quarter showed they are improving. It was much better than what we have seen in these six countries so far. England played well. I wondered in the first 40 minutes if they had real belief in their ability to win the game. But as the match progressed, this belief increased.

You could tell Ireland knew they were in contention by the fact that their coach Farrell and Borthwick were involved in a heated conversation near the tunnel shortly before half-time.

It is a sign of how good Ireland are that England were excellent in the first half and went into the break trailing 12-8. When James Lowe scored from a corner, you had to worry about England.

But they deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the way they responded. If I'm being very precise, I think England could have played quicker from the outside lines. There was some unnecessary celebration of penalty kicks which I hate. But this was more than made up for with the energy, passion and precision provided by England.

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England mounted an impressive counter-attack. As I wrote before the match, they put Ireland's line-up under pressure. The White jumpers rose into the air to put Dan Sheehan's throw under pressure.

In the Calcutta Cup defeat to Scotland, England tried to attack but made so many errors and served so much of the ball that they would never have won the game.

When James Lowe (pictured) scored a corner kick for Ireland, you had to worry about England

But against Ireland, their attack was promising. They played well in transition, a really good example of this being George Furbank's try as he raced into the corner.

England had their chances to pick up points and keep the scoreboard going. I invited them to choose posts whenever possible.

But there can be no doubt about their decision to take a corner kick after Peter O'Mahony's yellow card for Ben Earl's effort paid off. They proved their critics wrong.

I'm not the only one who was hard on the team. They've had a lot of criticism.

But they stood up to be counted when it mattered most. I was surprised by the decision to take off the front row, including Captain Jimmy George, so early.

Smith once again dropped into the pocket and his heroic moment could be a breakthrough for England

Once again, it paid off. The bench had a huge impact. What pleased me most was England's intention. They looked for discharge. They had players running into space.

We haven't seen that in a long time. Despite England's quality, you thought it wouldn't be enough when Lowe made his second attempt.

And I was out of my seat screaming when Danny Kerr kicked the ball wide with England on the attack in the final exchanges. There was a moment of madness.

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But England is back. Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, who had a great game, led the charge.

Smith went back into the pocket and the rest is history. Taking off for England. I really hope this is the start of something special for English rugby.