Six Nations: England v Ireland Preview

Players attempt to score a try

The Irish seem well up for this one and I’m banking on them putting in a mammoth shift to beat England at home and ensure their nation just their third-ever Grand Slam on Saturday the 17th of March.

England v Ireland
17 March 16h45
Twickenham Stadium

To suggest that the Rugby Gods have served up anything other than one of the most highly anticipated Six Nations contests of all this weekend would be the understatement of the millennium.

St. Paddy’s Day’s England-Ireland shootout has all the makings of a classic. The latter, having already wrapped up the title will be looking for just the third Grand Slam in their history while the former, having dropped one place below this week’s opposition on the World Rugby rankings this week, will be out to end an almost unheard-of two-match losing streak under the Eddie Jones-regime. We really are in for something special.

To Win (80 Mins)
England 23/20
Draw 20/1
Ireland 15/20

ngland +2.5 (9/10)
Ireland -2.5 (9/10)

It hasn’t exactly been the best few weeks for England, has it? Losses to Scotland and France have seen the men in white relinquish their Six Nations crown as well as their second-placed world ranking to their opponents from the Emerald Isle, whom they host this weekend.

Subsequently, their game under Jones seems to have become stale, while some of the more senior members of their squad have been far from convincing over the past few months. Change is needed. Heads need to roll.

It will be a long afternoon for England if they don’t up the ante at the breakdown. This part of their game was sorely lacking last week and the Irish will thrive off quick phase-play. Opensider Chris Robshaw will have a huge role to play for his side in limiting Ireland’s effectiveness in this regard, while a lot will also depend on the remaining members of English back-row to nullify their opponent’s attack.

The Grand Slam is on. One more win – on the day of St Patrick, no less – and a third clean-sweep is theirs. Last week’s comfortable 28-8 win over Scotland, along with an English loss to France, ensured Joe Schmidt’s Ireland their third Six Nations title in five years. Not only that, but they have since risen to an all-time high of second in the world rankings ahead of this weekend’s showdown. All to play for, all to prove.

The mood out of the Irish camp this week has been far from celebratory, however. Such is their ambition that they will only consider the season a success with a fifth-straight win. The senior players have spoken at length about what it would mean to the side to replicate the feats of the legendary teams of 1948 and 2009 and go the distance, and one certainly gets the sense that these Irishmen are ready to put in a performance for the ages.

On the basis of the England pack’s struggles against France last week, the Irish will be confident of dominating in the trenches. Their low-error count and possession-based approach make their game one of the toughest to repel, while their intricate tactical play – spearheaded by their ever-present halfback pairing – is capable of cutting sides to shreds; and I’m banking on them doing just that to England on Saturday.

Verdict: Ireland (-2.5) 9/10
The Irish seem well up for this one and I’m banking on them putting in a mammoth shift to beat England at home and ensure their nation just their third-ever Grand Slam. It’s going to be an absolute nail-biter at Twickenham. 

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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