The Teams have been announced for the mid table clash between Ireland and England in the “official” final week of the 2021 Six Nations.
It’s been a disappointing tournament, in a difficult season, for both sides. Outside of the regulation “big wins” against Italy, both Ireland and England only picked up their first wins, against substantial opposition, last weekend. Both those were against teams that hadn’t played for four weeks. If that hadn’t been the case I reckon both Ireland and England would have been on the wrong side of the score sheet.
In Ireland’s case they offered little outside a ferocious pick and drive against a hapless Scotland. In England’s case they did raise their game, but it was against a French side who were also rusty. However the rusty French side were one or two gears higher than what Scotland could offer and going on last weeks games you would have England as favourites.
Ireland’s hugh physical effort also left them without a few players with Bundee Aki coming in for Garry Ringrose and Josh van der Flier and Jack Conan coming in for James Ryan and Will Connors with Tadhg Beirne moving from back row to second row.
Jacob Stockdale, Conor Murray and Dave Kilcoyne appear to be tactical exchanges as James Lowe drops out of the squad and Jamison Gibson Park and Cian Healy drop to the bench.
Whether forced or not they are significant changes. Ringrose’s absence is perhaps the most significant and I’d have liked to have seen him link up with Stockdale but with Murray in for Gibson Park it looks as though Ireland are going to try and keep it tight and rely on English indiscipline to progress down the field. It’s likely Stockdale will be spending more time perfecting his defence rather than exciting in attack.
England have made only one change, Elliot Daly comes in at outside centre, with Henry Slade out due to a calf injury and all they really need to do to win this one is continue their improvement from last week though the bookies only have them as 4 point favourites. Discipline is their weakness and Ireland have a habit of getting under their skin but for the second time this tournament Ireland are facing a more experienced side in the starting XV’s with England clocking up 769 caps to Ireland’s 694.
Including the replacements, Ireland leap ahead with England’s squad containing 905 caps to Ireland’s 967 and as the game goes into it’s final throes the likes of Jamie George and Ellis Genge may be good for coughing up 6 or 9 points.
|Hugo Keenan||15||Max Malins|
|Keith Earls||14||Anthony Watson|
|Robbie Henshaw||13||Elliot Daly|
|Bundee Aki||12||Owen Farrell (C)|
|Jacob Stockdale||11||Jonny May|
|Jonathan Sexton (C)||10||George Ford|
|Conor Murray||9||Ben Youngs|
|Dave Kilcoyne||1||Mako Vunipola|
|Rob Herring||2||Luke Cowan-Dickie|
|Tadhg Furlong||3||Kyle Sinckler|
|Iain Henderson||4||Maro Itoje|
|Tadhg Beirne||5||Charlie Ewels|
|CJ Stander||6||Mark Wilson|
|Josh van der Flier||7||Tom Curry|
|Jack Conan||8||Billy Vunipola|
|Ronan Kelleher||16||Jamie George|
|Cian Healy||17||Ellis Genge|
|Andrew Porter||18||Will Stuart|
|Ryan Baird||19||Jonny Hill|
|Peter O’Mahony||20||Ben Earl|
|Jamison Gibson Park||21||Dan Robson|
|Billy Burns||22||Ollie Lawrence|
|Jordan Larmour||23||Joe Marchant|
The FRU Predicts: Ireland have worked hard this tournament but they took a lot out of themselves last week and it’s doubtful that the attritional game will enough against a physical English pack.
Don’t rule out England self destructing and Ireland responding to the CJ Stander effect, in what should be his last game, but with this, otherwise, a dead rubber it’s hard to see beyond an England win.