Six Nations 2013 Prediction: Ireland vs England

eng ire

eng ire

The 127th meeting between Ireland and England has already been touted as a possible championship decider after their respective opening wins and France’s surprise loss at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Ireland may benefit from home advantage, but this Six Nations Championship encounter remains incredibly difficult to call.

Reasons to back Ireland

Brian O’Driscoll
Predictable yes, but the greatest Irish player to ever grace a rugby field has an outstanding record against England. Ireland have won each of their last seven meetings when BOD has been available. He missed the Twickenham demolition last season and a recent World Cup warm-up, but had starred in the corresponding Six Nations fixture two years ago. His return and man-of-the-match performance against Wales last weekend wowed the rugby world, and he is certain to be in the thick of it yet again on Sunday.

Battle-hardened Irish
While England came through their opening game with relative ease against Scotland, Ireland had a real battle in Cardiff. Collectively they made 200 tackles, more than double England’s total (86). But while they may have felt the consequences of that earlier this week, Declan Kidney has reported a clean bill of health. Match practice will always be the best means of preparation when it comes to being ready for what will be another massively physical game on Sunday. And having been severely tested by Wales, Ireland will certainly be ready to match England’s physicality.

The choke tackle
More than any other nation, the Irish forwards have mastered the art of the choke-tackle as a means of securing turnover ball. A tactic they employed to great effect at the previous World Cup, it’s often Rory Best and Sean O’Brien at the heart of the action, holding their opponent off the ground to create a maul situation which prevents the recycling of possession and results in a turnover.

Reasons to back England

The set-piece
It’s no secret that England will go after the Irish set-piece again having ruthlessly dismantled their pack at Twickenham last year. One year on Ireland remain as vulnerable as ever in the scrum, and continually reliant on Mike Ross to cover the tight-head position. Declan Fitzpatrick is an alternative on the bench but realistically Ireland need Ross to hold up the Irish scrum for the full 80 minutes. In contrast Stuart Lancaster is able to call upon Dan Cole, regarded by many as the form tight-head in the Northern Hemisphere and one of the first names in most speculators’ Lions XV, while Joe Marler looks set to continue on the opposite side, Mako Vunipola providing an alternative option off the bench.

The Breakdown
Behind that lot is a weighty, abrasive pack, but one which is mobile enough to cause havoc at the breakdown. Scotland failed to cope with their physicality, and should Ireland also come into difficulties they will struggle to create line-breaks if their backs are starved of quick-ball from the base of the ruck. Whilst in possession England themselves are greatly improved in this area, as demonstrated during their momentous autumn victory over the All Blacks. On that occasion their clearing-out was superb, and again last week, 12 clean line breaks, 22 defenders beaten and 18 completed offloads suggest they continue in the right direction, though Ireland will provide a sterner test than Scotland.

Billy Twelvetrees
Stuart Lancaster has unearthed a gem after Twelvetrees’ impressive debut last weekend brought an extra dimension to the English attack. Suffice to say that not only is Twelvetrees a potential game-changer in the second-five eighths position, but an imposing physical presence in the midfield to boot. Manu Tuilagi will return to the fold too, but probably from the bench as Lancaster continues with a well balanced Twelvetrees-Barritt combination.

So much depends on the set-piece, but should Ireland achieve parity there, avoiding a repeat of last year’s capitulation at Twickenham, then I’ll back them to edge another classic encounter. Ireland by 2 points.


32 thoughts on “Six Nations 2013 Prediction: Ireland vs England

    1. England should be able to control the set piece so it looks like the breakdown will determine the outcome. England managed to boss the All Blacks in this area and need to do the same if they are to beat the Irish. Wales exposed the Irish defence in the second half last week. I can’t see Ireland pulling so far away from England it’s irretrievable.If it is close at half time England are probably the fitter of the two and the bench has more impact.

  1. I think England by 8.

    The choke-tackle can be effectively coached against. Before that numbnut Howley was in charge Wales hadn’t fallen for the tactic in their 2 previous wins against Ireland.

    England’s pack and back row are going to batter Ireland up front. Their backs are not going to hand Ireland the 2 tries that Wales did.

    BOD will make it very competitive but England will just be too strong, too confident, too fast and too desperate to carry on with their upward curve.

  2. I’m not expecting England to have scrum dominance, we got stuffed by the same front row in 2011. Last year a bigger English tight 5 exploited an injury and subsequently 2 loose heads being on the pitch. Whilst it was fun to watch I think it should be discarded as a special cause of variation. Even losing Ross again wouldn’t be so bad as there at least a tight head on the bench. Hopefully Healey can at least be given an exhausting workout.

    For me the game will be won and lost in the tackle area. We were slow and ponderous against SA and Aus, fast and fluent against NZ and the Scots. We were brilliant at the tackle area in the latter 2 games and suffocated in the previous 2. If Ireland slow us right down we could easily find ourselves back to the static one out rugby and Ireland will win, secure the quality and speed of ball we had in the last 2 games and we will win. I think we may just shade it, but I’m not putting any money on it!

  3. Fairly Confident for Once that England will deliver the goods.

    Even BOD after defending against Twelvetrees for 50 mins will have his mettle tested when Manu Comes of the Bench.

    Impact Subs accross the English Bench and the enthusiasm shown over the last few months with this young side I think they will do the Job.

    Roll on Sunday !!

  4. Not convinced by Twelvetrees, after one start, being a reason to back England. Going to be a close one. Can’t seperate them in my mind. Think England have the edge but Ireland are at home. Have gone with my heart to say England by 2, but it’s going to be a nailbiter!

  5. All dependant on how the 2 sides start. If Ireland get ahead early and get their tails up can’t see us coming back once the crowd gets going. However if we weather their early storm, dictate the breakdown and are in touch after 55 mins then think our bench will come into play and we might have too much for them. With either outcome I don’t expect it to be that tight 8-12 point win wither way. Head says Ireland, heart says England bring it on!

  6. I think England by 5-10. A lot depends on the breakdown area, but if Ireland compete in this area they still have to get past a defensive back line, and Barritt will be key on Sunday. Having players in the backline who can effectively tackle back row forwards, and create turnovers is something which Lancaster seems very keen on. Add Farrell’s aggressiveness in the contact are and you have a very competent three quarter line to stop most midfield attacks. This means Ireland will need to get the ball out wide quick. Ashton and Brown have pace, and can both tackle, but neither have the natural skill and talent that Zebo has. This is shaping up to be the most fascinating contest in this years tournament. I hope the occasion is as good as we’re hyping it up to be!!

  7. England are a very good side but novices playing these types of game. Ireland side is replete with Lions & HCup medallists. In tight games these things count. I don’t see anyone talking about discipline but Ashton, B Youngs, Care, Hartley, Marler, Tuilagi and Lawes are all susceptible to giving away cheap pens – I know Ireland picked up two yellows last week but these were clinical professional fouls not brainless ball tosses or shoulder charges. This will make a difference. Ireland by 11.

    1. Don’t forget Haskell …. but at least there is no Stevens.

      To be fare discipline was exceptional last week (6 pens only), hopefully it will stay this way this week

      1. Interesting reasoning Eamo – Ireland will win because they cheat better. While I couldn’t agree more about the cheating I don’t see it being enough against this England team.

        Got to also mention how ironic it is that after two years of bleating about that line out throw I now read Irish fans praising their teams ability to cheat when needed…

    2. I thought Ire were very lucky not to have been yellowed earlier and more often. They got away with murder in the second half. On another day a another ref would have come down harder. Do we know who the ref is btw?

  8. Regardless of how this one turns out I think we can all praise Lancaster for having the courage of his convictions in selection.Such courage can only provide the Irish with more to ponder,and if it goes wrong then England know a little bit more about themselves sooner rather than later.With respect to Flood I hope there is now a new emphasis on the back line,it’s starting to feel so much more dynamic.

  9. Much will depend on the ref. Ireland (land nz) are “streetwise” and may/may not get penalised at every breakdown. Hands on the ball a fraction of a second, slow to roll away etc. Adam jones solved it with his boots last week (illegally but effectively.
    Let’s see what happens on Sunday.

    1. I thought they’d shut you up last weekend!

      Nah, as long as we exist you’ll take more pride In seeing us lose than in actually winning your own games, won’t you? It’s sad that whoever we’re playing, win or lose, it’s always Welsh fans who feel the need to insult, mock, and generally wish ill will upon us. If only we could shut YOU up.

  10. Ignoring the childish spat above (started by my compatriot I’m afraid ) I would say that at a neutral venue England would be favourites for this.

    The question is did Ireland sit back on the lead last week in a game they had already won or did their game fall apart under Welsh pressure. Bit of both but they were one missed score( and there were a couple ) away from cracking.

    A draw would suit I think !

  11. im not mocking the English (as a win is a victory and a victory they should be proud of) however there brag over the New Zealand win is not necessary as it was a one off, but now they have beaten scotland they think they have it all, Ireland have what it takes to beat them and it should be a good game

    1. Haven’t heard any players bragging but then generally you don’t hear it from any of the teams just some of their fans. Bragging about beating New Zealand? I would it’s such a rarity, usually once a generation. Wales last beat them in 1953, were you even born then? I thought Scotland played well and England had to play very well to beat them but that games gone and they’ll only be as good as tomorrow’s result.

  12. I wonder how much that 2nd half defensive effort took out of Ireland. If its close around the 60 min mark I fancy Eng to pull away with our bench (Waldrom aside). I think Ire will look todo what they did last week and 2 yrs ago and come out fast and get a good lead. I hope Eng are up to it. Quietly confident but by no means assured!

  13. I think It will be a close match. Personly I hope Ireland will beat England. This is often an exciting match and could go either way. I predict England will win 17-13.

  14. Hoping for an England win but that’s a streetwise Irish set up, bags of experience, bags of ability, psychologically tough and home advantage. However, England are playing well and I think getting better, close very close.

  15. Hard one to call…..both good teams and both will be quite determined to win!!!! Ireland have the advantage of a home crowd and although I am a bit sceptical in predicting the outcome I would have to go with England on this one!!!

  16. ‘but now they have beaten Scotland they think they have it all.’ Says who Kyle? The press may build it up a bit,that’s only to be expected,but nobody I’ve spoken to who support England listen to a word of it,they know the team will be up against it.The players go about their affairs quietly and in general there has been a realistic acceptance that this is a growing team with a lot of potential,but thats all.

    1. Exactly I am so bored of reading all these comments about Arrogant Engalnd and gloating on the NZ win. It’s utter rubbish! Yes Eng are raising themselves from the ashes and yes they are playing good positive rugby. However no fan or player is under any illusion of grandure. Ireland have great domestic and international form and at home have to be favourites. Should be a cracking game and sure that come what may rugby will be the real winner at the final whistle. BRING IT ON!

  17. No matter how much discussion on individual matches rugby will
    never rival soccer as an international sport whilst the game itself is
    so flawed. The fact that the ball is in play for less than a quarter
    of match time speaks for itself. There are far too many petty
    regulations which constantly impede flow of play for reasons which the
    crowd invariably cannot see or understand, and which so often mean the
    game is won on negative scoring (penalties) rather than through tries.
    The outcome often therefore depends simply on whichever team has the
    best goal kicker. Let’s find a way to stop scrum collapses, and get rid of all the petty regulations (especially the accidental knock-on, which time and again stops a promising flow of play because of an inconsequential fumble which usually disadvantages the attacker anyway). It’s time for influential commentators and journalists to take the wider view and start campaigning against entrenched views.


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