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World Sport

Ireland shock world champs England

Paul Gittings

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Irish players congratulate Girvan Dempsey after his crucial try

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LONDON, England -- World champions England suffered a shock 19-13 home defeat to Ireland in the Six Nations Rugby Union Championships at Twickenham on Saturday.

The defeat ended England's 22-match unbeaten run at home dating back to the 1999 World Cup when they lost their pool match to New Zealand.

Fullback Girvan Dempsey touched down in the corner for Ireland's try early in the second half and the conversion by flyhalf Ronan O'Gara put the visitors 19-10 ahead with half an hour to go.

O'Gara's four first-half penalties had sent Ireland in 12-10 ahead at halftime after a try by England scrumhalf Matt Dawson and flyhalf Paul Grayson's conversion and penalty.

England had two second-half attempted tries disallowed by the video referee, the first almost from the kickoff when Ben Cohen's score, had it counted, would have put the home side ahead again. It was disallowed for a double movement.

Hooker Mark Regan's attempt to touch down in the corner just past the hour failed when he was just bundled into touch and a try was again disallowed.

England's World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson said Ireland had fully deserved their famous Six Nations win at Twickenham on Saturday.

Johnson, serving as a BBC match analyst following his retirement from the international game, pulled no punches in his assessment of the mistakes that contributed to England's 19-13 defeat.

"They didn't deserve to win today," Johnson said. "You can't afford to lose that many lineout balls and still expect to win a Test match.

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll hailed his side's victory over world champions England here at Twickenham as one of the "sweetest days" of his career.

"To beat them at home and in their first competitive match at Twickenham as world champions makes this among the top three sweetest days of my career, if not the sweetest."

Shocks galore

On a day of upsets, Italy scored their first win in this year's Six Nations by beating Scotland 20-14 in the sold-out Flaminio Stadium in Rome.

Italian fans chanted the national anthem as their team picked up their first points in the tournament, following straight losses against powerhouses England (9-50) and France (0-25).

Scotland are now rock bottom in the six-team standings, with three straight losses.

A second-half try by Fabio Ongaro and perfect kicking on penalties by South African-born fly half Roland De Marigny earned Italy a long-sought win, while slipping the Scottish team close to the unwanted "wooden spoon" prize given yearly to the last-place team in the tournament.

Scotland got its points on a late try from Simon Webster and penalties by captain Chris Paterson, who failed a conversion in the 80th as Italian fans were already celebrating victory.

Paterson gave Scotland a short-lived lead, 9-6 in the 39th minute. But De Marigny hit back one minute later.

Paterson and De Marigny, a fullback moved to flyhalf to replace Rima Wakarua, scored all points on penalties in the first half, which ended in a 9-9 tie.

The turning point of the match came in the 42nd when Ongaro scored Italy's try diving on the ball following a wrong control by his teammates.

De Marigny's conversion attempt struck the post leaving the score unchanged at 14-9 but Italy's flyhalf secured victory with consecutive penalties in the 70th and 78th, lifting the home team to 20-9.

De Marigny ended the match with a total of 15 points.

As Italy lost key players Manuel Dallan and Sergio Parisse to injury, Webster reduced Scotland's gap to 20-14 but it was too late for a comeback.

Captain Andrea De Rossi said Saturday's win was the result of clever play and ability by the Italian side to make fewer fouls.

"Today's win must be the starting point of a great future for this team, which can rely of many young players of great level," De Rossi said.

Coach John Kirwan, whose job was said to be at risk in case of a loss against Scotland, said he was overjoyed for the players "who made great sacrifices to reach this result."

"The team played with great intelligence and De Marigny was a key to victory," the New Zealand coach said.


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