This year's RBS 6 Nations resumes on Friday and England will be hoping for the unlikely result of a draw between Wales and France - the same result the Red Dragons achieved in the opening pool of fixtures against Ireland.
Failing that perfect outcome, from an English point of view, a Welsh win would leave England in pole position within the group, providing they beat Ireland at Twickenham the following day. Easier said than done, of course.
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England, who have yet to concede a try in this year's championship, will be hoping that Ireland maintains their poor scoring form.
So far, the Irish have scored fewer points than anyone in the group, with just one converted try and six penalties to show for their efforts. England coach Eddie Jones will be hoping his side do not make scoring easy for their Irish opponents by conceding avoidable and unnecessary penalties.
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The Irish, however, will be heartened by England’s continuing habit of giving away penalties, which will be a facet of the game that Jones will undoubtedly have worked on since their last match, against Italy, when they conceded 15 penalties. That now brings their total for the tournament so far, to 27.
The Irish have long been masters at applying pressure, especially at the breakdown, where they have previously exposed England’s frailties and will be seeking to continue that success next weekend.
On the other hand, England has so far scored more points and conceded less than everyone else.
In their two matches so far, albeit against the championship's two weakest sides; Italy and Scotland, the 55 points they have scored has included seven tries.
Ireland must heed the warning.
The danger for the Irish will be in the final quarter of the match as England showed against both Scotland and Italy when, once the replacements are introduced, England can play powerful, fast rugby, score quick tries and then take the game away from their opponents.
England will be determined to put on a show at Twickenham against a very dangerous opponent, but they have beaten them in five out of the last six meetings between the two sides; the one exception being Ireland’s 19-9 win in last year’s 6 nations fixture in Dublin.
Because of the demands of TV scheduling and the fact that the match between Wales and France will already have taken place the previous evening, England will go into their match with Ireland knowing exactly what is needed.
So, assuming Wales beat France, which seems a possible result, that will leave England with an opportunity to go one point clear of Wales, who they meet two weeks later at Twickenham.
And that’s a match that will go a long way towards deciding the outcome of this year’s 6 Nations.
Will England have enough to beat Ireland on Saturday at Twickenham? Give us your opinion in the comment box below!
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