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Six Nations 2014: 10 Greatest Tries in England vs. Ireland History

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2014

Six Nations 2014: 10 Greatest Tries in England vs. Ireland History

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    Peter Morrison/Associated Press

    Ireland and England meet at Twickenham this weekend in what promises to be an extravaganza between the two sides, with Joe Schmidt's visitors currently in the championship's driving seat.

    With Stuart Lancaster's squad having lost their opening encounter to France, it's safe to say any hopes England have of claiming the 2014 title rest in London this weekend.

    However, Ireland and England is a fixture that always has drama and context behind it, but what makes each and every clash unique is the fashion in which they've been decided.

    In preparation for Saturday's collision, we've cast an eye through the decades, compiling this list of the top 10 tries scored in this age-old fixture, with Ireland claiming a mighty grip on the more attractive scores.

10. Denis Leamy's Freak Line-Out Juggling

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    England will have felt victimised by the fashion in which Denis Leamy scored Ireland's second try of the game in their 2006 Six Nations closer against Ireland, but the score stands all the same.

    Replays showed that Ben Cohen was indeed out of touch when taking a quick throw-in, but the line-out was nevertheless reversed due to referee Nigel Whitehouse feeling otherwise.

    More belonging on a basketball than a rugby pitch, Leamy scrambles around the back of the line-out, just about managing to keep possession out of Lewis Moody's mitts before plopping down from short range.

9. Brian O'Driscoll Breaks Six Nations Try Record at Croke Park

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    Valued more for its context and prestige more than actual quality, Brian O'Driscoll's 2011 touching down of the ball against England ensured that the centre legend claimed the record for most tries scored in the Six Nations.

    For his 25th try playing in the competition—a tally which has since been extended—O'Driscoll found space where others could not at Croke Park, picking up and darting his way near the left touchline to put his team in the driving seat.

    The Dublin crowd were already rocking as a result of the high-speed collisions and tenacious build-up play that preceded the try; O'Driscoll happening to be the man who crossed the whitewash is a story that only he could write.

8. Mike Tindall Cuts an Unstoppable Line

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    On countless occasions has Mike Tindall's burly frame been seen charging on to a crash ball, but as domineering as the centre's figure might be, it's his rugby brain that makes those gaps so exposed.

    And this very foresight was exercised to perfection in 2003, the climactic meeting at Lansdowne Road which would decide if England's Grand Slam hopes were genuine and a 42-6 away triumph confirmed just that.

    Will Greenwood came in from his wider role to provide the pass that would scythe Tindall between Ireland's centres, the rest a mere formality with the Gloucester man searing almost unopposed on the enemy line.

7. Ireland Showcase the Whole Bag of Tricks

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    Rampant mauling, clinical rucking, not to mention some of the cleanest handling and running one's likely to see in a try with this many phases, Ireland showed in 2004 that they were the whole package.

    Prior to that year, the Irish hadn't won a game at Twickenham for 10 years and, to heap woe on the London hosts, it brought an end to their 22-game winning streak at the time.

    Girvan Dempsey was the man getting on the end of things, but every member of the team had some hand in driving from within Ireland's own territory, straight down the throat of England's defence before some sumptuous passing set up the Dempsey score.

6. Girvan Dempsey Capitalises on D'Arcy Magic

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    As if he was channelling the spirit of O'Driscoll himself, Gordon D'Arcy used a trick out of his club and international centre partner's book in order to send Girvan Dempsey for a heavily overlap score against the English in 2007. 

    It took until the 30th minute for Ireland to break the scoring deadlock, but the floodgates were opened by this Dempsey effort, with the Croke Park hosts proceeding to finish with a 43-point haul in their mauling of the England visitors.

    However secure the full-back's hands might have been, it was D'Arcy's ingenious improvisation that makes this such a wonderful entry, turning rags into riches with but a flick of the ball.

5. Gerry McLoughlin Barrels Over Following Dextrous Build-Up

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    Don't let the shoddy camera work fool you; Gerry McLoughlin's 1982 bulldozed try rests as a thing of beauty in Irish folklore, one of the (literal) driving forces behind the Triple Crown win of the 1982 Five Nations.

    Showing initiative in its finest mode once again, a bad situation is all of a sudden turned into a positive after Ireland see their drop-goal attempt blocked.

    Ollie Campbell's reputation as Ireland's Mr Reliable in that time was on fine display here, the fly-half helping retain possession for his side before a more direct approach is taken by "Ginger."

4. Tommy Bowe Finishes Superb Counter-Attacking Initiative

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    Ireland finished their 2011 Six Nations championship knowing that the title wasn't to be theirs, but a deathly dent was dealt to England's hopes of a Grand Slam thanks to some exemplary running rugby.

    It all starts with Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan leading the charge downfield, ironically enough with the towering twosome showing some fine footballing work.

    From there, the snap judgements of Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Jonny Sexton would catch England off guard, their attempts at a high line of rush defence proving futile against the Irish onslaught.

3. Shane Horgan's Game-Winning Reach

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    A mop-haired Brian O'Driscoll would, as he so often has during a glitzy Ireland career, prove to be the man at the centre of Ireland's match-winning hopes against England in 2006.

    A classic blend of that era, Ronan O'Gara's chip and chase from inside his own territory was capitalised upon by an O'Driscoll burst through midfield, with Shane Horgan providing the acceleration needed to touch down.

    With the game in its final minutes, Horgan's feet ever so close to touch and a Triple Crown-securing victory on the line, this try is as much valued for its high-octane drama as it is for the quality of the score.

2. Simon Geoghegan Launches Down the Flank

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    Courtesy of an expertly assembled collection of George Hook-narrated tries, Ireland would manage a 13-12 win over England at Twickenham in 1994 thanks largely to the sheer pace of Simon Geoghegan.

    Moving from right wing to left in a matter of just four passes, Ireland sprang into life, putting into context just how simple this game really is when the easy things are done correctly.

    Geoghegan's electric burst may have provided the points, but it was Irish motion in full effect that laid the foundations for a vintage effort.

1. Pat Casey Gets on the End of Fluid Irish Motion

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    Hook's collection contributes another stupendous try to our list, this Pat Casey score from 1964 standing as the pick of our proverbial bunch.

    As Hook so acutely explains, black and white images or not, the poetic fluidity of Ireland's attacking movement cannot be dampened by time.

    Fifty years ago, Mike Gibson would set off with a surge through the very core of the English line, with expert ball handling, as well as movement off the ball, setting winger Casey up for a score under the posts.

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