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England and Ireland go head to head in a huge Six Nations clash at Twickenham. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the game from 2:00am (AEDT).
This is one of the great match-ups of the Six Nations, and this looks set to be another titanic struggle between a strong, settled Ireland and an English team down on form.
Their last meeting at HQ was a Rugby World Cup warm-up match, resulting in a 57-15 thrashing by England. However, the last Six Nations match between the teams at this ground in 2018 was an Irish victory 24-15. England did get their revenge at Lansdowne Road in 2019 with a dominant display.
Paul O’Connell and Bono have joined the Irish preparation this week. There is never any shortage of motivation for the Irish in a game against England. No doubt O’Connell is telling them to take it easy. Ireland are the more settled side and are slowly building into the Six Nations with victories over Scotland and Wales.
Both matches were at home, so like the French, this is the first away game for the Irish and it doesn’t get any more challenging than England at Twickenham.
This game will be won up front, and the key indicators of the Irish pack going well will be if Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan and Peter O’Mahony get on top of their opposite numbers. Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray’s kicking game will be crucial if conditions are as predicted.
The Irish media has shown some concern during the week at the appointment of Jaco Peyper as referee. They have not enjoyed having him in charge of their matches with two losses out of three games.
Iain Henderson is a late withdrawal from the match. Devin Toner will take his place in the starting line-up and Ultan Dillane comes onto the bench.
The most surprising thing about England’s week so far is how quiet Eddie Jones has been in the build-up. He will be confident of springing an ambush on the Irish this week, but how his team transfers that energy onto the park is the question.
This is England’s first home game for a while, and they will be looking forward to feeling the familiar embrace of Twickenham.
England have a point to prove this week. Many pundits have been quick to criticise the team after the loss to France and the scrappy win over Scotland. This English team is still very good and they don’t have too many bad matches at Twickenham.
Jones will be pulling out all the stops to get the team firing this week and will look to blow Ireland away in the first quarter. Ireland can be plucky and won’t go away easily, so the English forwards will look to dominate proceedings and remind the faithful that all is well at the home of rugby.
The big change is the addition of Manu Tuilagi in the midfield. Jonathan Joseph comes into the team at wing for the injured George Furbank, which sees Elliot Daly move to fullback. Mako Vunipola is unavailable to play and is replaced by Joe Marler. Other changes see Courtney Lawes starting at blindside flanker, and Ben Youngs at starting halfback.
The weather conditions will be slightly wet and windy.
Peyper looks to reward scrum dominance. He likes a clean, crisp breakdown and relies heavily on his TMO to flag foul play, which for this match is fellow South African Marius Jonker. Romain Poite and Alexandre Ruiz are the assistant referees.
If England turn up with some swagger, this could be a long day for the Irish. If Ireland hold on and are within reach with 20 to go, it’s anyone’s game and Sexton may win it for them.
England by seven.
Kick off: 2:00am (AEDT)
Coverage: Fox Sports, Telstra, Kayo
Odds: England $1.26, Ireland $3.20
15. Elliot Daly, 14. Jonny May, 13. Manu Tuilagi, 12. Owen Farrell (c), 11. Jonathan Joseph, 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs, 1. Joe Marler, 2. Jamie George, 3. Kyle Sinckler, 4. Maro Itoje, 5. George Kruis, 6. Courtney Lawes, 7. Sam Underhill, 8. Tom Curry. Replacements: 16. Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17. Ellis Genge, 18. Will Stuart, 19. Joe Launchbury, 20. Charlie Ewels, 21. Ben Earl, 22. Willi Heinz, 23. Henry Slade
15. Jordan Larmour, 14. Andrew Conway, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Jonathan Sexton (c), 9. Conor Murray, 1. Cian Healy, 2. Rob Herring, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Devin Toner, 5. James Ryan, 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Josh van der Flier, 8. CJ Stander. Replacements: 16. Ronan Kelleher, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Ultan Dillane, 20. Caelan Doris, 21. John Cooney, 22. Ross Byrne, 23. Keith Earls