Marcus Smith celebrates scoring the winning drop goal for England. Getty

England fly-half Marcus Smith scored a drop goal with the last kick of the game to give his side a dramatic 23-22 win over Ireland, whose hopes of back-to-back Grand Slam titles came tumbling down at Twickenham on Saturday.

It was an electric start to the game as England began on the front foot and quickly had the crowd behind them.

They scored with their first attack of the match, swinging the ball left to eventually find Ollie Lawrence who finished off an explosive phase of play.

Ireland looked subdued and it was England — whose lack of threat in attack has been under the spotlight at times this year — who were fluid with ball in hand.

No. 8 Ben Earl and captain Jamie George were relentless in punching holes in the Ireland defence and set the tone in a dominant first half for England.

While England had the better of the territory and the intention to play free-flowing rugby was there, they had nothing to show for it at the break.

Thanks to penalties and the boot of fly-half Jack Crowley, Ireland held a 12-8 lead as the sides went into the sheds.

If coach Andy Farrell told his team to get on the front foot early, they listened. Ireland wing James Lowe scored just minutes after the restart to extent their lead.

But England stuck with the expansive rugby that they started the game with and moments later they hit back.

Sam Underhill burst forward and offloaded to Maro Itoje who set George Furbank free down the left side in a slick move to score the home side’s second try of the evening.

With an increasingly expectant crowd roaring them on, England composed themselves and managed to build pressure again. After pinning Ireland back on their own line, Earl crashed over to score his second try of the Championship and give his side the lead.

They may have been below their best for much of the game, but Ireland were still chasing historic back-to-back Grand Slams and as they have time and again, pulled themselves back in the game.

The visitors fizzed the ball from one side of the field to the other with the ball landing in the safe hands of Lowe who scored for a second time.

A tense last five minutes beckoned, and Twickenham found its full voice.

The white wave forced themselves forward again and Smith — in his first game of the tournament – put himself in position and iced the drop goal.

Relief and euphoria erupted around the ground as England celebrated snatching victory at the death, while Ireland players sunk to the floor in disbelief having suffered just their third defeat in 23 games.

England can end the tournament on a high against France in Lyon next week, while Ireland will host Scotland in Dublin.

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