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England 13-10 Ireland
Schmidt: Brown changed the game
ESPN Staff
February 22, 2014
Mike Brown was a pivotal presence against Ireland © Getty Images

Joe Schmidt insists Mike Brown was the difference maker as England beat his Ireland side 13-10 at Twickenham to bring their Grand Slam hopes crashing to earth.

Once again Brown stood out for England as they made amends for their opening day defeat to France and brought themselves well and truly back into the Six Nations title fight. The England full-back turned the game on its head with a decisive break for Danny Care's try, which put Stuart Lancaster's side 13-10 up - a lead they never relinquished.

Painful memories drive England to win

  • In the words of Andy Farrell, England's win took "massive balls". Again England found themselves behind with the momentum firmly in the opponent's favour but unlike their games against New Zealand back in the autumn and France at the start of the month, sheer bloody-mindedness and defensive structure saw them through.
  • This was a brilliant Test match with both teams finding tooth and nail throughout. The statistics show that Ireland shaded almost every area of the game bar the scoreboard. They had more possession, territory and a scrum in the ascendancy but they lost.
  • Read the full verdict here

Ireland outplayed England in many areas of the game and, after going ahead at the start of the second half through Rob Kearney, it looked like they may ease away with the win. But England held firm to deny Ireland the Triple Crown.

The visiting side had been in control until Brown's break just before the hour mark, which came after a Jonathan Sexton spilled a high ball, though Schmidt refused to blame his fly-half for the decisive try.

"Mike Brown hit that line really well, and they got away," he said. "I wouldn't really focus on the kick-off as much as the scrum defence was good, then from that we didn't get organised well enough."

"Three points, that's ultimately the fine margin that existed. We felt we searched pretty long and hard for that three in the last 10 minutes of the match. We had a pretty good scrum turnover, and those are the fine margins and we didn't quite get there."

"Mike Brown's goalkeeper save when there was no one behind him in the first half after our kick on, that was probably the defensive highlight, even without anyone having to make a tackle. And then his running in broken field was maybe the difference between the two teams.

"They are the small instances in the game when things break open, and unfortunately for us they broke open for England. It was very much a complete package from him today."

Schmidt is eager to get Ireland's title challenge back on track, though he is wary of the challenge of an Italy side denied a victory in heartbreaking circumstances by Scotland.

"We've just got to make sure in the next few weeks we put ourselves in the best position to beat Italy," said Schmidt. "If you take them any less than 100 per cent you saw what happened to Wales. They will be devastated by the loss against Scotland, and that makes them that much more formidable.

"One step at a time and unfortunately we tripped up on Saturday."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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