• Anthony Watson and Mike Brown scored tries in Eddie Jones’ first match in charge at Twickenham
  • England move above Wales to top the Six Nations table with two more rounds left to play of the tournament
  • Jones’ side take on Wales at Twickenham on March 12 before final match against France on March 19

Sam Peters For The Mail On Sunday

England set up a tantalising potential championship decider against Wales in a fortnight’s time with a hard-earned win over Ireland at Twickenham.

Eddie Jones’s men will take on Warren Gatland’s Wales outfit at the same ground that their World Cup hopes began to unravel last October knowing victory will bring swift revenge as well the chance of a Grand Slam in their final match against France.

They had No 8 Billy Vunipola largely to thank for a win they will take much heart from, despite the sometimes stop-start nature of a game which saw England lose James Haskell and Danny Care to the sin bin in the second half. 

Mike Brown (left) celebrates England's second try with a smile on his face, Robbie Henshaw (right) was unable to stop him from scoring 

Mike Brown (left) celebrates England’s second try with a smile on his face, Robbie Henshaw (right) was unable to stop him from scoring 

Brown (left) acknowledges the Twickenham crowd as he is congratulated by England team-mate Jack Nowell (centre)

Brown (left) acknowledges the Twickenham crowd as he is congratulated by England team-mate Jack Nowell (centre)

Ireland's full half Johnny Sexton scores a penalty kick during the Six Nations rugby match between England and Ireland at Twickenham

Ireland’s full half Johnny Sexton scores a penalty kick during the Six Nations rugby match between England and Ireland at Twickenham

Owen Farrell kicks three points to make it 6-3 to England during their Six Nations clash against rivals Ireland 

Owen Farrell kicks three points to make it 6-3 to England during their Six Nations clash against rivals Ireland 

Saracens star Farrell takes the game to Ireland as he brings the ball upfield during round three of the Six Nations

Saracens star Farrell takes the game to Ireland as he brings the ball upfield during round three of the Six Nations

Vunipola produced a carrying display of such brutal, destructive force it sometimes seemed the 23-year-old No 8 was playing Ireland on his own.

Time after time he carried the ball deep into the Irish defence to give his side a platform to attack from. He deservedly won the man-of-the-match award. He was head and shoulders above any player on the field and finished the match with the captain’s armband with Dylan Hartley and Owen Farrell off the field.

Anthony Watson and Mike Brown scored England’s tries while Farrell kicked 11 points and while there remains huge areas to work on, three wins from three is an excellent return in Jones’s first games in charge. 

Jones stirred the hornet’s nest in the build up by questioning Ireland’s decision to publicly declare fly half Johnny Sexton had suffered a whiplash injury in his side’s defeat by France.

Sexton, who has a well-documented history of concussion, was targeted by Guy Noves’ men in Paris a fortnight ago – both legally and illegally – and Jones had bristled as suggestions his side should not go after the opposition No 10, or any potential defensive weak link for that matter.

Jones brought 21-year-old Saracens lock Maro Itoje in for his first start after Joe Launchbury withdrew on Tuesday with a hamstring problem.

There was plenty of attention on the versatile 18-stone forward leading into the game, with many viewing him as a possible future England captain, but Jones had been keen to play down expectation on his young charge.

Uncapped Wasps star Elliott Daly was another player Jones had looked to hide from the spotlight after drafting him on to the bench as he opted for additional three-quarter on his replacement’s bench after opting for six forwards in the comfortable win over Italy in Rome.

Ireland, badly hit by injuries and still reeling from the recent retirements of veterans Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell, arrived at Twickenham as underdogs after drawing with Wales and losing to France in their opening Six Nations fixtures.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt handed a debut to hulking Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey and the 17-stone powerhouse was expected to prove a handful for England’s more lightweight midfield alongside Robbie Henshaw at outside centre.

England’s diminutive fly half George Ford, under pressure following a couple of relatively unconvincing displays, was ready for a busy afternoon in attack and defence.

Jones had highlighted Ireland’s propensity to kick ball out of hand but it was England who tested their opponent’s aerial skills early on while the visitors looked to run from deep.

This was England’s first appearance at Twickenham since their World Cup exit was confirmed in the pool stages at the end of last year with a record defeat by Australia.

But it was Ireland who got first points on the board when Sexton kicked a long-range penalty from the right hand side after England infringed at a breakdown. 

James Haskell (centre) is shown a yellow card by French international referee Romain Poite during the clash at Twickenham

James Haskell (centre) is shown a yellow card by French international referee Romain Poite during the clash at Twickenham

England head coach Eddie Jones (centre) oversees his first game in charge at Twickenham as Red Rose take on Ireland

England head coach Eddie Jones (centre) oversees his first game in charge at Twickenham as Red Rose take on Ireland

REMAINING FIXTURES 

MARCH 12: IRELAND vs ITALY, ENGLAND vs WALES

MARCH 13: SCOTLAND vs FRANCE

MARCH 19: WALES vs ITALY, IRELAND vs SCOTLAND, FRANCE vs ENGLAND 

Farrell was penalised for a blatant neck roll on Keith Earls eight minutes in to put a halt to a promising England attack.

Farrell levelled proceedings with a penalty of his own after 11 minutes but England’s habit of giving away cheap penalties continued to ease pressure on their opponents before referee Romain Poite spotted Henshaw obstructing Farrell and gave a penalty to England.

Farrell could not take advantage as he pushed a relatively straightforward kick wide of the right-hand upright.

Vunipola was again England’s most effective carrier in the opening exchanges with the Saracens No 8 repeatedly trucking the ball up without being able to make a telling incursion by off-loading in the tackle.

In keeping with other Six Nations games, there was plenty of endeavour but a lack of fluid attacking play as the sides were locked at 3-3 after 20 minutes and referee Poite’s whistle dominating.

Vunipola looked set to score when he tore down the touchline from the back of a ruck before charging through Andrew Trimble only to bundled into touch by a combination of Conor Murray and CJ Stander.

Vunipola – apparently now carrying a shoulder injury – was prominent again in the lead up to what appeared to be the first try of the game, only for England captain Dylan Hartley to be penalised for a double movement when Poite referred the decision to Television Match Official Shaun Veldsman.

England remained camped on Ireland’s line as the visitors were forced to absorb wave after wave off attacks.

The home side finally had something to show for their territorial dominance when Farrell kicked his second penalty on 35 minutes and England went in 6-3 in front after a stop-start first 40 minutes.

Ireland came out of the blocks quicker in the second half and the visitors were further buoyed when James Haskell was rightly shown a yellow card for a reckless high and late hit on Murray. It was Haskell’s second yellow card on this ground in successive Six Nations matches – after being sin binned against France last year – and his side were immediately punished when Murray drove over from the resulting line out.

Sexton converted to make it 10-6 after 47 minutes before Farrell kicked his third penalty when Devon Toner was penalised and Haskell returned to the field on 54 minutes relieved more damage had not been done in his absence.

A swift break down the right by Jack Nowell saw the ball recycled quickly and England moved the ball left. The move looked to have broken down but Chris Robshaw scooped the ball well before throwing a clever pass over the Irish defence to Watson who touched down in the left corner.

Farrell missed the conversion as England entered the last quarter with a four-point advantage.

Vunipola continued to have a huge influence on the game with yet another bulldozing run almost leading to another try for Watson but England recycled quickly and Farrell threw a superb wide pass off his wrong hand to Brown who sped in from 20 metres for a decisive score.

Farrell’s conversion stretched England’s lead to 11 points.

Ireland responded immediately when Sexton unleashed Henshaw down the right but Nowell covered across from his opposite wing to pull off the tackle of his life on the Ireland centre which prevented a certain try.

Daly replaced Farrell on 65 minutes at inside centre but England heaped pressure back on themselves when replacement scrum half Danny Care was sent to the sin bin for not rolling away on 71 minutes.

Ireland thought they had scored but Josh van der Flier’s effort was disallowed by the TMO and when England won a penalty at the next scrum there was palpable relief.

Jonathan Joseph (left) opens his legs to attack Ireland at pace as the England man runs at Ireland's Henshaw (right)

Jonathan Joseph (left) opens his legs to attack Ireland at pace as the England man runs at Ireland’s Henshaw (right)

Anthony Watson scores England's first try of the evening by evading Ireland's defensive set-up to help Red Rose seal victory

Anthony Watson scores England’s first try of the evening by evading Ireland’s defensive set-up to help Red Rose seal victory

Watson is congratulated by his England team-mates after he goes over from a Chris Robshaw looped pass

Watson is congratulated by his England team-mates after he goes over from a Chris Robshaw looped pass

Brown beats the Red Rose emblem on his chest as he celebrates in front of a jubilant Twickenham crowd

Brown beats the Red Rose emblem on his chest as he celebrates in front of a jubilant Twickenham crowd

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