Dylan Hartley insists a potentially watershed RBS 6 Nations victory over Ireland was forged amid the ruins of recent heroic failures against New Zealand and France.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster acclaimed Saturday’s 13-10 triumph at Twickenham as the most significant of a two-year reign that now spans 21 wins in 31 matches. The result shredded Brian O’Driscoll’s scripted Twickenham farewell, denied Ireland the Triple Crown and Grand Slam and created a four-way shootout for the title with two rounds remaining.
Danny Care’s 57th-minute try, converted by Owen Farrell, turned a 10-6 deficit into a 13-10 lead they never relinquished thanks to their courageous final-quarter defence. England established leads against New Zealand in the autumn and France in this year’s Six Nations opener, only to succumb to decisive late tries.
“There was a load of talk in the week about Ireland outnumbering us in caps and a lot of people were saying ‘ooh, look out, they’ve got this and that’,” Hartley said.
“It was good to concede points like we did against New Zealand and France, but this time to stay composed and actually close the game out.
“We showed experience beyond our years to close the game out and our defence was outstanding.”