England v Ireland - match preview

England can prove their championship credentials this weekend at HQ with a victory as they aim to follow up their convincing display at Murrayfield. Ireland come into the fixture with their hopes of getting the Grand Slam still alive and a win at Twickenham could set up an all or nothing final match in Paris in three weeks’ time.

The shutout against Scotland a fortnight ago proves that this young side don’t just have ability; they’ve also got the mental toughness to bounce back from tough results, such as the bitterly disappointing defeat to France. Against Ireland, Stuart Lancaster won’t be able to call upon Dan Cole due to injury but bringing in David Wilson will give the side some experience that may prove vital in deciding the result of the game. Lancaster must win this game if he has serious ambition to regain the Six Nations and a convincing display will put a message out to the other sides in the competition and others around the world ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Brian O’Driscoll and co. will want to win their first Six Nations championship since 2009 and they are in a brilliant position to do so, having breezed past an abject Wales two weeks ago. Head Coach, Joe Schmidt, can be confident that if they defeat England this weekend they’ll be in a two horse race with France for the Grand Slam. Experience will be important at Twickenham and the fact that O’Driscoll is fit after being ill in the week will boost morale in the Irish camp and O’Driscoll can equal the world record for test appearances. Ireland’s toughest test yet lies ahead of them and if they come through it they may well be the side celebrating in Paris.

Big games are the games that England players should relish, if they can keep their nerves at bay and come out the other side of this weekend’s match having put an end to Ireland’s Grand Slam hopes then the possibility of winning the Championship will increase greatly; but this will be England’s hardest game they’ll play in this campaign.

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