Key Clash Preview: Ireland v England

Date: 27th August 2011
Time: 14:30 GMT
Venue: Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

To say that this was an important game for both sides, would be a massive understatement. It’s the last game either team play before they head to New Zealand next week for the World Cup. Ireland are probably under more pressure than England going into this game they have lost all three of the warm-up games. England have beaten, and been beaten, by Wales in their two warm-up games.

Martin Johnson has made 6 changes to the side that lost to Wales a fortnight ago. The new centre partnership of Tindall and Tuilagi has no doubt given Declan Kidney nightmares this week. Jonny Wilkinson claims the out-half jersey from Toby Flood and is joined in the half backs by Saracen’s Richard Wigglesworth. London Wasps scrumhalf Joe Simpson makes the bench in what is set to be his international debut.

The precautionary absence of Brian O’Driscoll following a minor shoulder injury in the France game, means that the captaincy will be in the safe hands of Paul O’Connell. More worrying for Kidney is the news that Sean O’Brien is set to be out of action for a fortnight after picking up a knee injury. Stephen Ferris starts his first warm-up game as does Munster’s Jerry Flannery and David Wallace. Veteran fullback Geordan Murphy also starts and travels to New Zealand following the ankle injury to Felix Jones.

What to expect:
England will be keen to get some decent attacking backline moves, we all know what their pack can do and going into the World Cup they could do with an extra string to their bow. Tommy Bowe is making his first appearance in a green jersey since the 6-Nations and will be keen to make his mark. The Irish pack did well in the scrums last week against France and they will be keen to keep parity against a much bigger pack this weekend.

All eyes on:
England’s physical dominance over the Irish is most evident in the mis-match of the center pairings, Mike Tindall and Manu Tuilagi will face Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls. I would also expect England to target the Irish 10-12 channel as this is where they are weakest. Jonny Wilkinson will no doubt provide plenty of opportunities to test Irish lineout, which has shown a great improvement in the last two matches.

Last fixture: March 19, 2011, Ireland 24-8 England, Dublin.

Weather: Chance of showers.

Ireland will be keen to get a win under their belt and always up their game when England come to town, so on that basis, I’m going for an Ireland win by 6 points.

by Conor Buckley

14 thoughts on “Key Clash Preview: Ireland v England

  1. I’m split on this one. I think the Irish should do it, but I’m going to optimistically hope that Johnno’s boys might finally find some attacking rhythm and options and pull off the win. England by 8.

  2. Ireland seem to win through unpredictable back line play, but against such a massive team as England this could be difficult to pull off, whereas all England have to do is power on through. England by 10

  3. Ireland have shown massive improvements through their last 3 games, started horribly against Scotland, then two tough tests against France. These games will stand to them and I expect we’ll see a much more polished performance tomorrow…

    England have lost 5 of their last 6 games in Dublin, What has changed on the English team since the 6Nations game in March?

    1. My head says England are slightly better on paper. But you’re right to point out the history, I think it counts for something here. The Irish up their game for England and England seem to shrink a bit. I hope i’m wrong. Also how much will the BOD factor (or lack of it) count for?

  4. Ireland should have enough to take this – never underestimate the importance of this fixture for the Irish crowd. Although O’Driscoll missing is a big blow, Mike Tindall isn’t the man to take advantage. Glad to see Murphy at full-back – hope he gets plenty of game time in NZ. Even with O’Brien out, I prefer the Irish pack to the English – should have enough to win the forward battle. The problem is that if either of the Irish props go down, they’re in serious trouble, as Buckley and Court simply aren’t good enough to step up to the mark. Reckon Ireland by 5-10.

  5. Ireland to win by 2-3 points. Expect England to have 60% of possession/territory but Ireland to outscore them two tries to one. Really like the look of the Irish back row – 3 very good but different ball carriers and potential to cause England some trouble at the breakdowns especially out wide. Need a really big performance from the Irish tight five in general play and set pieces – it has been lacking so far in the warm up matches. Will be interesting to see how the speed of earls goes against the size of Tualligi. However I would have liked to see what Ireland’s plan is if D’arcy gets injured – maybe put mcfadden in first centre for the last 20/25 minutes to see how he copes against a big centre partnership.

  6. I didn’t really mean BOD for his individual performance, more what he brings in passion and leadership and getting the most out of the players around him. Also its not Tindall its Tuilagi. Tindall is at 12 vs Darcy (that should be a proper bore fest).

  7. I think England will do us this time,we are exposed in the centre and in my opinion Tuilagi looks like the real deal and just what England need,good lines and power.
    Earls isnt up to the job and shouldnt be there,Darcy is rusty to say the least.
    If England get a good start and keep the ball,its going to be a long day for us.

  8. Earls has the potential to be a great player, but not sure centre is where he should be. Trimble would probably make a better outside centre

    Think England are going to struggle at the breakdown (again!) with no real openside flanker, the moronic pod system that they insist on playing and the fact that Ireland have a seriously good back row

    But, having said that, if England can get Tuilagi doing some damage and Ashton and Foden running off him, it’ll make for a very interesting match

    Plus, i will be watching just to see if England can get Tuilagi running directly at O’Gara…

    1. What has changed on the English team since the 6Nations game in March?

      …. Well for starters theres no tattoed buffoons from Bath……. also these players were not on the pitch or did not start. Sheridan, Thompson, Lawes, Croft, Wilkinson, Tindall, Tuilagi

      For Ireland, theres no BOD or SOB (Though Ferris is hardly a drop in quality), Tommy Bowe & David Wallace are very short of game time. There are also questions over Cian Healeys fitness.

      The English Bench also looks very very strong. With Wilkinson starting I can’t see the game being anything but tight going into the last 20. It could make all the difference.

      By the by a fit Youngs & a confident Flood would be in my first team but neither are so …..

      1. That’s a good point about the bench. It does look far stronger for England. Ireland’s is not great, with the exception of Sexton

        It would be desperately depressing for Cian Healey or Mike Ross to see Sheridan leave the field only to watch Stevens come trotting on

        However, Wood is out due to a slight strain. Palmer comes onto the bench instead – presumably with the thought that Lawes can cover the back row if necessary

  9. Home advantage to Ireland, but, disappointing performance against France, BOD missing and ROG at fly half, its fairly clear where Tindall will be running.

    I go with the bookies, Ireland by a whisker. You can bet a fair amount O’Connell ill give a hair raising pre-match speech.

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