Kick Off: 1700, 18/03/2017
Stadium: Aviva Stadium
England have already wrapped up the Six Nations title, but are seeking a second successive grand slam and a world record 19th consecutive Test victory when they face Ireland on Saturday.
Victory for Ireland will guarantee the runners-up spot, but defeat could see them finish their Six Nations campaign in fourth spot.
Ireland’s hopes of winning the Six Nations went out of the window with last weekend’s 22-9 defeat by Wales, but they still want to avoid losing to all three home nations for the first time in nine years.
Although Ireland were banging on the door in the latter stages in Cardiff, they were second best against a side with power and speed throughout the ranks. Ireland were not helped by a yellow card shown to fly-half Jonny Sexton and his absence was sorely felt as Wales scored 10 points in six minutes either side of half-time, but they still lacked the nous to break down a Welsh side that scored three tries without reply.
Sexton came through Tuesday’s training session and will be fit for Saturday, but Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has a concern over Keith Earls who felt tightness in his groin on Tuesday, so Jared Payne could step into the backline if needed. Ireland will need all hands on deck if they are to prevent England from winning this fixture for the fifth time in six attempts.
Many fancied Scotland to either cause a shock last weekend or at least run England close, but the stark reality was that they were pulverised in all departments at Twickenham.
Coach Eddie Jones has already stated he does not expect England to lose in Dublin and says he will be preparing his side as if it were a “World Cup final”. The Australian’s relentless will-to-win approach means it is hard to see beyond an England victory.
The odds on England to beat Ireland are 13/20.
Although the last five matches between the sides have been won by 10 points or less, this is an England team that has increased their margin of victory with every game.
England to win with a -3 handicap at 91/100 cannot be ignored.