A try by Keith Earls gave Ireland a 13-6 lead just before the hour mark [GALLO/GETTY]

Tommy Bowe kept alive Ireland's chances of retaining rugby union's Six Nations championship with a late try to give Ireland a 20-16 win over England at Twickenham.

England had briefly lead 16-13 after a Jonny Wilkinson drop-goal nine minutes from time, but Bowe broke the defensive line from a simple lineout move to score his second try of the match and secure Ireland's sixth win in seven games against England.

France, with three wins out of three, remain favourites for the title but the Irish, who lost in Paris, are still in with a chance with home games against Wales and Scotland to come.

England, who had beaten Italy and Wales, next face Scotland away before finishing away to France in the final game of the championship.

Quick response

England had started strongly but were caught out when Wilkinson was snagged and turned over in the Irish half.

The visitors responded quickly and a neat chip by Jonathan Sexton, preferred to regular flyhalf Ronan O'Gara, opened the door for Bowe to touch down.

England also lost lock Simon Shaw to a shoulder injury as Sexton missed the conversion.

Wilkinson missed his first penalty attempt but landed two more as England, despite a slippery ball, showed a willingness to run that was painfully absent against Italy.

Sexton missed a penalty from inside his own half but also landed one as Ireland reached halftime 8-6 ahead.

Both flyhalves missed tough penalties early in the second half as the game struggled for shape.

Aggression

Ireland's second try came after a controversially reversed penalty after 55 minutes when England scrumhalf Danny Care was punished for shoving Tomas O'Leary.

Wilkinson put the home side ahead in the 71st minute with a drop goal [GALLO/GETTY]

Ireland kicked for the corner and after another Paul O'Connell lineout win, Sexton spun a pass into the path of Earls to score in the corner for a 13-6 lead.

England hit back to level it at 13-all after an hour when prop Cole got the benefit of the TV match official's verdict after a tryline pileup.

Ireland suffered another setback when captain Brian O'Driscoll was stretchered off having been knocked flat by the knee of team mate Paul O'Connell.

Wilkinson, who missed three goalkicks against Italy, then missed his third of the afternoon when another penalty went wide but he was on target with a 71st-minute drop goal to put England ahead for the first time.

The lead lasted only three minutes as Bowe blasted through some poor tackles for his second try, simply created by an O'Connell lineout catch and sharp pass by O'Leary.

Italy victory

Italy ended their two-year wait for a Six Nations victory with a hard fought 16-12 victory over Scotland at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome.

The result ended a seven-match losing run in the competition for Italy dating back to their 23-20 victory over the same opponents in the last match of the 2008 season.

For Scotland it was a ninth straight defeat away from home in the Six Nations and no less than they deserved in a disjointed and stuttering display.

A try by replacement scrum-half Pablo Canavosio - their first in this year's tournament created by their own play – boosted Italy's chances of avoiding the wooden spoon for the third year in a row.

Canavosio went over the line in the 67th minute after a fine break and offload by Gonzalo Canale. Wing Mirco Bergamasco scored the Azzurri's other points with his boot to give them their first win.

Scotland, whose points came from flyhalf Dan Parks, twice had the ball over the line in the second half with prop Allan Jacobsen but the video official ruled it had not been grounded either time.

Source: Agencies