Can Ireland Spoil England’s Grand Slam Party on S.t Paddy’s Weekend?
Last updated: March 16, 2017 by Leon Marshal
|Last season:||England 21 – 10 Ireland|
|Competition:||RBS Six Nations|
With the final weekend of the 2017 RBS Six Nations about to get underway, the only thing that stands between England and their second successive grand slam under Eddie Jones is Joe Schmidt’s changeable Irish side. Ireland’s away loss to Wales in round four has meant that they have failed to set up a dramatic final showdown for the Championship and the Six Nations trophy will be kept locked away in the Twickenham trophy cabinet for another year. England, however, have their eyes set on extending their 18-game win streak to overtake the All Blacks as the team with the most consecutive test victories at Tier One level while Ireland, against the emotional backdrop of S.t Patricks day weekend, would love nothing more than to deny their old foes the honour.
Last week’s emphatic victory over Scotland at Twickenham saw England produce their most complete performance of the tournament. The forwards were surgical at the breakdown and played with relentless pace and power while the vision of Farrell, coupled with the dazzling pace and footwork of hatrick-hero Jonathan Joseph, tore the Scottish midfield to shreds. Reports from the England camp suggest that Jones’s side have no intention of resting on their laurels; there’s a burning desire among the players now – many of whom are still in their early twenties – to reach for the stars and achieve greatness. Consecutive grand slams is something that England have not achieved since 1991-1992 in the days of Rory Underwood and Jeremey Guscott. If they can maintain their momentum and get past Ireland on Saturday they will see it done; they will take home the much-coveted Triple Crown Trophy; and they will also surpass the All Blacks world record for most consecutive victories. With the domineering Billy Vunipola and prolific try-scorer Anthony Watson both back in the frame to further the English cause, Jones’s young guns will take some stopping.
Ireland’s drop off from round three to round four will be a real cause of concern for Joe Schmidt. After weathering sustained periods of pressure at home against the French and showing great spirit and composure to eventually close out the game, last week in Cardiff they had no answer to Wales’s persistent defence and came off second-best in what turned out to be an exhausting arm wrestle. If the satisfaction of denying their old rivals another grand slam and a world record isn’t enough to get the Irish fired up in the final round, the backdrop of S.t Patricks day weekend will surely do the trick. They will, however, need a lot more than sheer fervour if they are to derail England. Ireland failed to come out firing in the second half last week, which meant that Wales could take advantage and get on the front foot and build momentum. If one thing is for certain, it is that Ireland must produce an 80-minute performance and maintain their discipline if they are to prevail as this year’s tournament has shown that the boot of Owen Farrell and England’s killer instinct makes the men in white a difficult customer to overcome, both at home and away.
The biggest loss to the Irish squad is undoubtedly Connor Murray at scrum half. The in-form Munster man has failed to shake off a shoulder injury and has been left out of the matchday 23. He is replaced by 25-year-old Kieren Marmion.
Devin Toner slides onto the bench to make room for Iain Henderson, who impressed off of the bench last weekend against Wales.
Billy Vunipola resumes the starting number 8 role after making his return to international rugby last week against Scotland. He takes the place of Nathan Hughes, who slides onto the bench, to make his first start since suffering a knee injury against Argentina in last year’s autumn tests.
Anthony Watson also comes back into Jones’s starting XV after having made a successful return to international rugby in round 4. He takes the place of Jack Nowell on the right wing, which means Johnny May misses out on a place in the matchday 23.
|Ireland:||McGrath, Best, Furlong, Ryan, Henderson, Stander, O’Brien, Heaslip, Marmion, Sexton, Zebo, Henshaw, Ringrose, Earls, Payne|
|Subs:||Scannell, Healy, Ryan, Toner, O’Mahony, McGrath, Jackson, Conway|
|England:||Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Daly, Farrell, Joseph, Watson, Brown|
|Subs:||George, Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Hughes, Care, Te’o, Nowell|
|Ireland 2016 – Present||England 2016 – Present|
|5 (3)||(at home) Wins (2016 – Present) (away)||10 (7)|
|52–21 vs. Canada||Biggest win (2016 – Present)||61-21 vs. Scotland|
|(3) (3)||(at home) Losses (2016 – present) (away)||0 (0)|
|21-9 vs. New Zealand||Biggest Defeat (2016 – present)||–||37||Tries Scored (2016 – present)||48|
|36||Tries Against (2016 – present)||30|
|1||2016 Finishing Place||3|
|13||Six Nations Titles||32|
- Last week’s loss to Wales has meant that Ireland’s hopes of a 14th Six Nations championship are over for this year. The best they can hope for now is to deny England the grand slam – with the backdrop of S.t Patrick’s day weekend, they would enjoy nothing more.
- England have now officially been crowned the 2017 RBS Six Nations champions, making it their 32nd title in the history of the tournament. They are now eyeing their second successive grand slam which, if they are successful, would make it their 13th clean sweep.
- Ireland have a pretty good record against England at home at the Aviva Stadium (formerly Landsdowne Road). In the last 10 meetings between the two sides in Ireland, England have 6 and Ireland have won 4.
- Last week’s demolition job over Scotland saw England overtake Ireland as the team with the most tries in the tournament. They now have a total of 16 compared to Ireland’s 13 and will be hoping to hold on to this record on Saturday.
Head to Head
|Last 5 meetings between the two sides|
|Date||Competition||Game Result||First Try-scorer|
|27/02/2016||Six Nations||England 21 – Ireland 10||C Murray ’45|
|05/09/2015||2015 World Cup Warm Up||England 21 – 13 Ireland||May 3′|
|01/03/2015||Six Nations||Ireland 19 – 9 England||R Henshaw 52′|
|22/02/2014||Six Nations||England 13 – 10 Ireland||R Kearney 41′|
|10/02/2013||Six Nations||Ireland 6 – 12 England||–|
Conclusion & Betting Tips
You would be sorely mistaken if you’re thinking that England being crowned Six Nations champions last weekend would do anything to blunt the intensity of the contest between these two sides. Yes, Ireland are playing mostly for pride at this stage – and also for a fourth-place world ranking spot ahead of the 2017 World Cup seedings that will take place after this weekend – but make no mistake: they would take huge pride and satisfaction in denying England any further successes in this year’s campaign. The bookmakers have England down as favourites (quite rightly given their impressive form under Eddie Jones), however Ireland have more than enough ability to cause an upset. It’s a tough call, but we suggest siding with the bookmakers on this one and opting for an England win. If you want to add some more value, try going for England to win with a 6-10 points winning margin as it’s bound to be a tight game – top prices are currently showing at BetVictor.