Game of Thrones?
In the game of the weekend first takes on third, with the winners here heavily favoured to be crowned champions next month.
The last time England hosted Ireland, the away side were obliterated in the scrum and suffered a humiliating 30-9 defeat. This time the Irish arrive at the home of rugby with a wealth of front-row cover and, with Dan Cole missing for Stuart Lancaster’s men, there is genuine belief that Ireland have a distinct advantage in this area. What a difference two years makes.
England always pride themselves on their forward grunt but with Ireland’s rolling maul proving a productive source of scores to date, coupled with the scavenging form of Peter O’Mahony at the breakdown, Ireland appear equipped to deal with the English juggernaut up front.
The biggest surprise to date has been the Irish pack’s scoring contribution, especially with Joe Schmidt – renowned for his exciting back-play – at the helm. However, expect England’s forwards coach Graeme Rowntree and company to have done their homework on how to stop Ireland’s rolling maul. Schmidt, though, will surely have another trick up his sleeve in anticipation of this. With the Triple Crown also up for grabs, it all makes for a fascinating contest.
England continue to make steady progress under Lancaster. They were unlucky to lose in Paris and, after successive second-place finishes in ’12 and ’13, Lancaster will feel now is the time for his side to signal their intent ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.
The Red Rose have won the last three encounters, but Ireland have a decent record at Twickenham, winning on three of their last five visits to London.
England’s Mike Brown and Leroy Burrell have made more clean line breaks (four) than other player in this year’s championship but Ireland have been stingy in defence, conceding just two tries in their last six 6 Nations matches. That would suggest another low-scoring, close-fought encounter – as per last year’s (England 12-6 Ireland) game in Dublin – is on the cards. Bearing that in mind Ireland (+6.5) at 61/100 looks the prudent bet.
Looking for a bit more value from the England V Ireland match odds? Try Ireland ht/ft at 11/4.
We can’t wait for this match, we’ll be glued to our TV from 4pm on Saturday in what promises to be a fearsome encounter at Twickenham which could well prove pivotal in deciding this year’s 6 Nations title.