England will be looking to claim their second successive Grand Slam when they take on the Irish this Sunday.
An English side who are on the precipice of a new world record for most consecutive wins will travel to Dublin this week to face the final obstacle standing in their way: a fired up Irish side. The hosts for Saturday’s encounter will be determined to bounce back from last Friday’s defeat to Wales and to stop their arch rivals claiming back-to-back Grand Slams.
Ireland v England | Saturday 18 March | Aviva Stadium | 19:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Ireland 16/10 | Draw 20/1 | England 11/20
Ireland (+3.5) 9/10 | England (-3.5) 9/10
Last week’s defeat to Wales sums up Ireland’s Six Nations campaign quite well. The men from the ‘Emerald Isle’ blew hot and cold at the Principality Stadium as their solid start was followed by 60 minutes of inaccuracy. Joe Schmidt’s men will have to iron out the kinks in that were on show against the Welsh if they are to stop this English juggernaut in its tracks.
Ireland are unlikely to make the same errors twice in a row as they really do have a quality backline. The foundation will have to be laid by the pack however, which means the likes of Tadgh Furlong and Keiran Marmiam will have to be on their game. They will also need the loose trio to come to the fore as they have in the past. CJ Stander is likely to be the key man at the breakdown. He has the ability to dominate ruck time proceedings. And if the Irish can win the breakdown battle, the the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations may just be extended for an extra 24 hours.
I honestly thought last week’s assignment against Scots may prove a banana peel for Eddie Jones and his men. How wrong I was. Within 25 minutes the English were 20 points to the good and had effectively sealed back-to-back Six Nations titles.
They may have secured the Six Nations title with an emphatic 61-21 victory over the Scots, but the English are likely to be even more determined to seal a victory this week as there is a Grand Slam still to see as well as the All Blacks’ world record to surpass.
Jones’ has had some good news on the injury front with influential utility Elliot Daily being declared fit to play. The London Wasps man was the centre of controversy last week after he returned to the field having gone off the field for a Head Injury Assessment and then complained about dizziness shortly after returning.
While Daily will retain his place, we could see a few changes to the England run on XV with Billy Vunipola touted to replace Hughes at eighth man. Brother Mako may also get a start as Jones’ looks to freshen up his pack.
Verdict: Ireland 16/10
I fancy this Irish side to get a win this Saturday. They will be determined to stop the English claiming the world record and what better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s than with a win over the old enemy.