Henry Slade scored a second-half double as ruthless England consigned Six Nations champions Ireland to its first home defeat in more than two years with a 32-20 bonus-point victory in Dublin.
Joe Schmidt’s side started the defense of its title as firm favorites to retain it, but the 2018 Grand Slam winners were beaten for the first time on home soil since losing to New Zealand in November 2016.
Jonny May set the tone by scoring inside two minutes and Elliot Daly took advantage of a mistake by Jacob Stockdale to add another after Cian Healy touched down.
The lively Slade crossed twice for Eddie Jones’ side, and Owen Farrell scored 12 points with the boot as Ireland’s 12-match winning run at Aviva Stadium came to a halt.
A second Johnny Sexton penalty and late converted John Cooney try were all Ireland could muster after the interval as it was outplayed by an impressive England side.
The perfect start for @EnglandRugby #GuinnessSixNations #IREvENG pic.twitter.com/AxaThFonZe
England silenced the majority of a raucous crowd by taking the lead 90 seconds in, Farrell whipping a brilliant cut-out pass for Daly, who fed May on his outside for a superbly worked try.
Tom Curry was sent to the sin bin for a late hit on Keith Earls, and Ireland had its opening try just after he returned when Healy dotted down, and Sexton slotted through the conversion.
England responded well to that setback and produced another slick move to grab the lead, Stockdale juggling the ball under pressure from Jack Nowell and Daly racing onto his own kick to punish the prolific Ireland wing.
Ireland was up against it and breathed a sigh of relief on the stroke of halftime when Mako Vunipola had a try – which was initially awarded – ruled out by Jerome Garces for a double movement following consultation with the TMO, with England having to settle for a Farrell penalty that gave them a seven-point lead at the break.
Jordan Larmour replaced Earls at the interval, and Sexton reduced the deficit to four points before Farrell was off target from the tee, with Maro Itoje and Devin Toner limping out of what continued to be a fierce tussle.
Slade gave clinical England breathing space when he darted to get on the end of a clever May kick to finish, then snaffled a stray pass from Sexton to rub salt into the wounds with a bonus-point try five minutes from time after a long-range Farrell penalty.
Cooney burst through to go over right at the end for a try that Sexton quickly converted, but England already had a deserved victory in the bag.
MAGNIFICENT MAKO DRIVES ENGLAND
Mako Vunipola was outstanding in a brilliant all-round display for England, making an astonishing 25 tackles and 11 carries. The prop was denied a try on the stroke of halftime for a double movement but was named man-of-the-match for an outstanding performance.
IRELAND’S AERIAL BOMBARDMENT FAILS TO TAKE OFF
Much was made of the aerial bombardment that Daly would face after he was given the nod at fullback, but he and May were largely assured under the high ball as Sexton and Conor Murray were not allowed to dictate the play by England.
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England hosts France, wounded by a second-half collapse against Wales, on Sunday and Ireland takes on Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.
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