Saracens’ Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finalists played leading roles as England condemned Ireland to their first home loss in 13 Tests on Saturday.
Fly-half Owen Farrell, who contributed 57 points as the London club topped Pool 3, was also on the mark with his right boot for England in their bonus-point 32-20 victory over the Six Nations champions on the opening weekend of this year’s tournament.
The England captain led by example with 12 points from three conversions and two penalties, while Saracens prop Mako Vunipola was named man of the match after topping the game’s tackle count and making 11 carries.
Vunipola’s clubmates in the pack – hooker Jamie George, locks Maro Itoje and George Kruis, and No.8 Billy Vunipola – also starred in England’s first success in Dublin since 2013.
— Saracens Rugby Club (@Saracens) February 2, 2019
For Ireland, Leinster Rugby fly-half Johnny Sexton kicked 10 points and prop Cian Healy scored their first try, while Ulster Rugby scrum-half John Cooney marked his Six Nations debut with a late try.
On Friday, Saracens back Liam Williams had been a key attacker for Wales in the No.15 shirt as they staged a record Six Nations comeback from 16-0 down at half-time to beat France 24-19 in Paris.
Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finalists were also to the fore as Scotland got their Six Nations campaign off to a bonus-point start as well by beating Italy 33-20 at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.
Edinburgh Rugby wing Blair Kinghorn led the way with a hat-trick of tries – the first Scot to score a treble in the Six Nations – while Glasgow Warriors full-back Stuart Hogg also crossed the whitewash.
— Edinburgh Rugby (@EdinburghRugby) February 2, 2019
Racing 92’s Finn Russell, who kicked a conversion, pulled the strings at fly-half for a back line that also included Glasgow wing Tommy Seymour, plus centres Huw Jones and Sam Johnston, a Test debutant.
Warriors, who qualified for the last eight by finishing second in Pool 3, then saw fly-half Adam Hastings and scrum-half Ali Price introduced as second-half replacements along with prop Jamie Bhatti.
Scotland’s pack was dominated by Pool 5 winners Edinburgh, who began the game with the complete front five of props Allan Dell and Willem Nel, hooker Stuart McInally, plus locks Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist, as well as flanker Jamie Ritchie. Simon Berghan then replaced Nel after 50 minutes.