Ireland were made to work incredibly hard by 14-man England but skipper Johnny Sexton admitted he would have jumped at the chance of a bonus-point success before the game.
A 32-15 win at Twickenham leaves Ireland just two points behind France at the top of the 2022 Guinness Six Nations table, knowing that a win next week at home to Scotland would put the pressure on Les Bleus on Super Saturday.
Ireland did not have it easy against England, despite Charlie Ewels’ red card after just 82 seconds, with the home side fighting back to level at 15-15 on the hour-mark.
But late tries from Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham saw them home and Sexton was understandably delighted at the result.
He said: “We got five points at Twickenham, if someone had told me that before the game I’d have snapped their hand off and run away with it. I don’t know the last time we scored four tries here and got five points so sometimes you have got to win ugly. I think we did that. It’s on to next week and all to play for.
“Playing England in Twickenham is probably the biggest test in world rugby. We talked all week about how tough it was going to be and it didn’t let us down. We played some good stuff but made a lot of unforced errors that we’ll have to have a look at, a lot of penalties that we gave away that we’ll have to have a look at.”
Ireland looked like they would run away with it after Ewels’ dismissal and James Lowe’s early try, but England then worked their way back into the game thanks to a dominant scrum.
Some uncharacteristic handling errors also hurt Ireland, and Sexton admitted that they would have to tighten up before taking on Scotland.
He added: “There’s plenty to improve. When you go down to 14 men, it was tough on them but the rules are the rules. It can be tough to play against 14, they had no option to kick the ball all day and they got some good reward from it.
“You have to do what you do (against 14 men) and try and do it better. We left a couple of opportunities behind at the start of the second half. If we had scored then, we might have forced them to play a little differently, and then the game becomes a bit different. So our lack of accuracy at times made things difficult.”