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Match Preview: Ireland v England

Match Preview: Ireland v England

Today’s RBS Six Nations meeting of Ireland and England is make-or-break time for both sides. But with the stakes so high, who will prosper at a packed-out Lansdowne Road?

Today’s RBS Six Nations meeting of Ireland and England is make-or-break time for both sides. But with the stakes so high, who will prosper at a packed-out Lansdowne Road?

For Eddie O’Sullivan’s side, a third Championship win in a row would strengthen their shout for a potential Grand Slam decider with Wales on March 19.

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The carrot is also there for the Irish to pick up their 21st win in their 28th game since Italy were added to the Championship in 2000 – making them the most successful side in the new competition’s history, with both England and France presently on 20 each.

Today’s winner also automatically goes fourth in Monday’s new IRB World Rankings, but that is all immaterial. All week, captain Brian O’Driscoll – successfully recovered from his hamstring injury – and O’Sullivan have been attaching the moniker of ”wounded animal” to Andy Robinson’s side.

Ireland must tread carefully, but with enough purpose to claim two points that are there for the taking.

Even if England’s new coach has lost three on the bounce, since earning a debut 70-0 thumping of Canada last November, the old enemy’s recent record in Dublin is enough to send a chill down the most fervent of Irish supporters.

Since 1985’s 13-10 win for Ireland, in which Michael Kiernan dropped a crucial goal, England have visited Lansdowne ten times – winning seven, and outscoring their hosts by 205 points to 109.

Whilst history may be against them, O’Sullivan’s charges have the form, the momentum, the home advantage and even the sick bay in their favour.

And an in-form goal kicker to boot. Ireland have never scored more than 26 points against the English in 117 meetings since 1875, so do not expect a try-fest.

Ronan O’Gara – just as his five successes from six (1 conversion and 4 penalties) proved crucial in last season’s 19-13 win at Twickenham – will be relied on in what is his 50th cap.

The Munster fly-half – only nine points short of the 500-point mark – will lead a strong Irish side out onto the pitch to mark the occasion.

On paper, he should lead Ireland to a famous victory against an off-colour England – who were boosted yesterday as flanker Lewis Moody passed a late fitness test on his infected finger.

The victory all depends on whether O’Gara’s forwards continue their edge in the set piece. If they can, the men in white will be staring at their worst run of defeats in the Championship since the wooden spoon season of 1987.

Two years ago after that harrowing Grand Slam defeat, O’Driscoll claimed: “Slowly but surely, we are getting there.” Another rung on that ladder should be Ireland’s come five o’clock.

Coach Speak: Eddie O’Sullivan (Ireland): “Had England kicked their points they would have beaten France and that would have created a different landscape for Sunday.

“This is England we are talking about. They have a depth of talent and a very good record against Ireland. They will target a victory in Dublin as the turning point in their Six Nations.”

Andy Robinson (England): “We are not going there to make up the numbers – we are going there to get in their faces and to play. We are not going there to sit and watch Ireland play and be the bridesmaids, we are going there to attack them.

“That’s what we did in the first half against France and it’s about us putting an 80-minute game together.”

Match Trivia: England lead the 117-game series 69-40, with 8 draws. The visitors field just five survivors from 2003’s 42-6 Dublin win. Ireland will boast eight in their starting line-up – Geordan Murphy, O’Driscoll, Denis Hickie, Peter Stringer, Shane Byrne, Hayes, Malcolm O’Kelly, Anthony Foley.

Ireland v England, Lansdowne Road, kick-off 3.00pm


(15) Geordan Murphy
(14) Girvan Dempsey
(13) Brian O’Driscoll (Capt)
(12) Shane Horgan
(11) Denis Hickie
(10) Ronan O’Gara
(9) Peter Stringer
(1) Reggie Corrigan
(2) Shane Byrne
(3) John Hayes
(4) Malcolm O’Kelly
(5) Paul O’Connell
(6) Simon Easterby
(7) Johnny O’Connor
(8) Anthony Foley


(16) Frankie Sheahan
(17) Marcus Horan
(18) Donncha O’Callaghan
(19) Eric Miller
(20) Guy Easterby
(21) David Humphreys
(22) Kevin Maggs

2004-05 Form: LWWWWLLWWWWW
2005 Six Nations: Won 28-17 v Italy, Won 40-13 v Scotland. Top points scorer: Ronan O’Gara 26. Top try scorer: Denis Hickie 2


(15) Jason Robinson (Capt)
(14) Mark Cueto
(13) Jamie Noon
(12) Olly Barkley
(11) Josh Lewsey
(10) Charlie Hodgson
(9) Harry Ellis
(1) Graham Rowntree
(2) Steve Thompson
(3) Matt Stevens
(4) Danny Grewcock
(5) Ben Kay
(6) Joe Worsley
(7) Lewis Moody
(8) Martin Corry


(16) Andy Titterell
(17) Duncan Bell
(18) Steve Borthwick
(19) Andy Hazell
(20) Matt Dawson
(21) Andy Goode
(22) Ollie Smith

2005 Six Nations: Lost 11-9 v Wales, Lost 18-17 v France. Top points scorer: Charlie Hodgson 16. Top try scorer(s): Josh Lewsey, Olly Barkley 1 each

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Recent Meetings:

1995: Ireland 8 England 20, Lansdowne Road
1996: England 28 Ireland 15, Twickenham
1997: Ireland 6 England 46, Lansdowne Road
1998: England 35 Ireland 17, Twickenham
1999: Ireland 15 England 27, Lansdowne Road
2000: England 50 Ireland 18, Twickenham
2001: Ireland 20 England 14, Lansdowne Road
2002: England 45 Ireland 11, Twickenham
2003: Ireland 6 England 42, Lansdowne Road
2004: England 13 Ireland 19, Twickenham