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Ireland Set To Power Past England

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Joe Schmidt may have set his stall out at the beginning of this Six Nations Championship as being happy with a top two finish but he and everyone else knows that there is so much more on offer for this Irish team. A win today is very much on the cards for a rejuvenated Ireland team. They have in their ranks the best positional kicker of a rugby ball, they have the better of the two packs and they have experience that money can’t buy. Leaders will be littered around the park in green jerseys. Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll and the latest leader by example Peter O’Mahony.

Ireland’s maul has been the weapon of choice for their first two games against Scotland and Wales and what a weapon it has proven to be. How England can stop this marching green machine without giving away penalties must be a severe head scratching exercise for their coaches. The simple answer is, they can’t, Irish body positions when they roll forward have been so close to perfection as to say that this maul is unstoppable. Will they get an opportunity to use it? With Devin Toner, O’Connell and O’Mahony in their line out, it’s difficult to see them not getting ample opportunity to break English hearts here. Ireland were slow off the mark against Scotland but impressively they didn’t panic. They bided their time and eventually broke down the opposition to win out comfortably. There was only ever one winner from the kick off against Wales. The better structure of the Irish game, the better decision making and the continued frustrating of the Welsh by pinning them back in their own half, time and time again reaped dividends.

England started poorly against France in Paris, they then managed to not only get a foothold in that game but they took over and were dictating. When it was looking like the game was in the bag, they took their foot off the gas and the French not needing a second invitation robbed the game from under English noses. How good are France? Wales showed last night how good they are. England faulted and floundered against Scotland. They ran up twenty points against Scotland where with their dominance from start to finish, a good team would have hit the fifty point mark. Of course England will turn up today, they are at home, they have a point to prove and the Championship is still a goal that they can aspire to. Their pack will be tested today by Ireland, brute strength will not be enough, the game has become more technical than that.

Danny Care is playing well for the English and perhaps his premature substitution against France will be a severe regret from the English coaches for some time to come. But he has a proven short fuse, he doesn’t like attention from the opposition and he will have to deal with plenty of attention today. England’s Dylan Hartley is another that could be targeted by the Irish, another player with which the red mist can descend easily with little or no provocation. Much has been made of the clash of Luther Burrell and Brian O’Driscoll and the former could be another player that potentially could get himself in trouble, the occasion and trying to prove his manliness against his opposite number will be something England must watch. The experience in the Irish side will handle this occasion much better than their English counterparts.

So it’s a day that Ireland will attack London with all the confidence that is needed. There has been little talk of the Triple Crown that is on offer today but winning some silverware will be the mark of a huge step forward for this Irish team. Jonathan Sexton will be instrumental to the Irish cause, he will be worth his weight in gold and will have to be protected from English attention. Jamie Heaslip has hit form again for both province and country and his role today must not be underestimated. It will be all guns blazing from the start of this one but Ireland will have too much for this English side. They should come out on top and have a bit to spare at the finish. The referee will be an important factor and O’Mahony especially will have to get him onside during the early exchanges as he like all good flankers play on the edge. A win will set up a home game against Italy and a Paddy’s weekend away trip to Paris to try and achieve the much wanted Grand Slam. The passion and heart will be unquestionable today from Ireland, patience and ability will be all that is needed to see this one through. What an occasion this game promises to be.

Verdict: Ireland by 10+.

Image courtesy of RBS6nations.com

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