Six Nations Predictions: England v Ireland

Where to start? There is so much riding on this game for England after all the criticism they have faced, but Ireland will be under pressure as well after their defeat in Paris. Which way will it go?

To what extent was England’s labouring peformance in Rome dictated by the tactics of their opposition? Did they really get ‘sucked in’ to the kicking gameplan, or was that their intent all along? Will they play a more expansive game against a side that will play with width themselves?

So many questions, and another prediction article filled with ‘ifs’. For me, the front five battle will be very important on Saturday – England have had injury problems, whilst Ireland have struggled in this department and will miss Jerry Flannery. So, if England can exert pressure on their lineout as they did against Wales, they should enjoy some reasonable possession.

If England’s forwards hit some rucks with a bit of intent, rather than flopping weakly over the ball, at least some of that possession should be relatively quick, and that will enable Jonny Wilkinson to stand flat and send Riki Flutey and Mathew Tait into space. Easy game, rugby.

James Haskell, Lewis Moody and Nick Easter will need to perform as we know they can, competing relentlessly at the breakdown and frustrating the opposition. With turnover ball, England have the potential to be dangerous, and if they look to run with the ball, they ought to create some chances.

Unfortunately, I can’t really see it happening. There has been so little evidence of an England gameplan, and despite the fans’ propensity to look on the bright side and latch on to any glimmer of hope, for several years, England have been pretty dire.

We ought to remember that Ireland were unbeaten throughout 2009, and their run only ended against a clinical French side in Paris. The men in green have certainly not become a bad side overnight, and a glance down the teamsheet reveals so many players with so much talent: O’Connell, Wallace, Heaslip, O’Driscoll and Bowe to name just a third of the side.

The selection of Jonny Sexton says a lot about the ambitions of each side. Declan Kidney is clearly opting for a more attacking style, choosing the promising young fly-half over the steady and experienced O’Gara. How many times have we seen Martin Johnson favouring steadiness and experience over youth and promise?

Everything is telling me to pick Ireland – my head is screaming, ‘look at the evidence’. However, my heart is speaking more loudly. How good would it be if England pulled off a victory? Then the Grand Slam really could be on!

So, my SportGuru prediction is England by 4.

Let me know what you think!

8 thoughts on “Six Nations Predictions: England v Ireland

  1. Too many ‘ifs’ for me there Hutchington. I think the Irish back line might dazzle our three-quarters in their headlights and with the support of people like Heaslip and O’Connell in the loose, be too much for an England side without enough forwards/backs cohesion.

    My late Irish mother in one ear, my English old man with me in the stands in the other…. the loyalties split – it’s the Greens by 10 for me.

  2. I think that England will win this game by suffocating it early on and then using the space later. Sadly this is the only possible way we can win at the moment (although I believe that this team will grow into something excellent over time) and I believe with home advantage we will win this by 5.

  3. I really hope it’s an exciting game. There’s a reasonable chance that it could be horrifically dull, but fingers crossed.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Sexton playing on such a big occasion. I have a feeling that he’ll have the game of his life…

  4. This one is tough to call. The only way I can see England winning is if they start big and build up enough cushion to ride out the inevitable comeback. I think Michael’s right – early gameplan will be suffocation and steamrollering. I just wish I had faith in their ability (and intent) to progress from that once the opportunities start to open up. Ireland have not looked impressive this year, but this game could re-define their season and the boys in green will be fired up.

    There are many strong leaders in the Irish team, and to stand a chance of winning we need to see people like Hartley, Easter and Care show that they too can exert some control and order (unlike their captain, unfortunately).

  5. My predictions are on this thread from earlier in the week:

    To summarise – Ireland by 15 to 20.

    Over breakfast this morning I watched some of last night’s Rugby Club and the footage of Sexton in the Heineken Cup and Geordan Murphy last week for Tigers made me even more worried for England.

    Kicking possession away to the Italian back 3 is one thing, but giving it to Earls, Bowe and Murphy (with Trimble on the bench) would be madness.

    I can’t see us winning, but this does give us a glimmer of hope:

  6. That’s massive news…to summarise, BOD and Ferris didn’t train today, but Kidney reckons they’ll still be fit. Virus apparently.

  7. How many mistakes does Paul O Connell have to make in the loose before someone pulls him aside and teaches him some simple ball handling skills??
    He has even admitted his failure in this area himself in the last 2 games…lost count of number of times he has spilled and his involvement in mauls is dreadful also..france game…lions….time to take POC off the pedastal me thinks

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