Intensity. I hate rugby clichés, honestly – but it does feel like battles between England and Ireland always come down to strength in the breakdown and big hits.
These two have absolutely no love lost. In recent years, the bad blood between the sides is evident every time you witness them match-up. We’re all waiting for that really odd Eddie Jones pre-match soundbite, but it’s Andy Farrell that interests me the most. How does he motivate this Irish pack?
Here’s three betting markets we think can hand you a nice profit for this mammoth Six Nations clash between the old foes.
This seems generous, especially when you consider the previous meetings between the sides at Twickenham. England are notoriously good at home, having lost only a handful of games at Twickenham in the Six Nations era.
But Ireland are the primary culprit when it comes to keeping them in check, as Irish visits to London have seen them score 20 points or fewer on numerous occasions. And given that you’d hand Ireland the edge at half-back, there’s enough firepower there to keep the scoreboard ticking over – even if the breakdown, which Ireland are quicker at than anyone else – is their particular strength.
I trust Ireland not to turn the ball over in general play as they probably possess better hands among the backs, but some early cough-ups among the forwards unsettle the scrum, because the pairing of Sinckler and Marler definitely won’t be dropping possession.
Remember all that furore about dominant tackles last year? I feel like the attrition won’t quite be there this time around – and that hands an advantage to Ireland. Am I allowed do rugby puns? Advantage? The state of me.
I like how this ties in with a potential narrative. Ireland score the first try of the game, forcing to England to be more aggressive with their possession. They’ll have to play wider than they like to – forcing the crafty trio of Larmour, Stockdale and Conway who are notorious for their intercepts, to try and catch a flat pass on the wing.
I suspect England, who will see this is a must-win – far more than Ireland will – gladly kicking penalties in the first half. I’m not so sure Ireland will do the same as Farrell tends to go for the jugular early doors.
I can see this going to the wire. I don’t want to touch the unders or the overs because I think the line is very accurate, so this is the alternative play.
While Ireland will get off to a flier, England have it within themselves to force physicality that bit more. I suspect they’ll be picking on Rob Herring up front and will opt to scrum where possible because of that.
If England win this, they’ll win it by a small margin – because their sole focus here is to win the match. Ireland are somewhat different – and for whom – a losing bonus point isn’t the worst result in the world.