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Six Nations | Group Stage
Mar 9, 2024 at 4.45pm UK
Lawrence (3'), Furbank (47'), Earl (59')
Lowe (43', 72')

Preview: England vs. Ireland - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's Six Nations clash between England and Ireland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

England will face the mighty Ireland in round four of the 2024 Six Nations Championship on Saturday, March 9, at the iconic Twickenham Stadium.

Since their first encounter way back in 1875, these rugby powerhouses have played 141 Test matches, with England emerging victorious in 80, Ireland winning 53, and eight matches ending in draws.

Match preview

England's Chandler Cunningham-South and Theo Dan celebrate after the match on February 2, 2024© Reuters

England will be the latest team to attempt to thwart the reigning champions, and they currently occupy third place in the table with eight points. Scotland holds second spot with nine points, while Ireland leads the standings with an impressive 15 points and a perfect record.

In the last eight Test matches between these sides, all outcomes were decided by a margin of 10 points or more. England claimed victory in the first four matches of this streak, while Ireland emerged victorious in the most recent four encounters.

Steve Borthwick's side's first defeat of the tournament came as they fell 30-21 to Scotland in round three when, despite mustering a respectable comeback, they were unable to close the gap to the Scots, who secured their fourth consecutive victory over their Calcutta Cup rivals.

A less-than-impressive two-point win over Wales in round two was the start of their concerns, and many England followers would likely agree that the side have to significantly improve their performance to be competitive against their well-prepared opponents here, as their stagnant attack, reliant on one-off runners, is bordering on insufficient.

In defence, the Red Roses seem to lack the sort of fire and intensity we saw in the World Cup last year, which also does not bode well for their chances against the formidable Irish attack in this one.

Ireland's Dan Sheehan celebrates after the match on September 28, 2023© Reuters
Meanwhile, Ireland seem poised to secure a second consecutive Grand Slam and have been showcasing their physicality, clinical precision and strategic intelligence in such a way that their dominant performances appear almost effortless.

The reigning champions reignited the St Patrick's weekend celebrations by securing their first Grand Slam success in Dublin last year, claiming a hard-fought 29-16 bonus-point victory over this opponent.

The Shamrocks will now be looking to take a step closer to repeating that feat with a win in this match and will also be aiming to secure a fifth consecutive win against England, a feat not achieved since between 1972 and 1976.

Fair to say, Andy Farrell's team have displayed no lingering hangover whatsoever from their World Cup disappointment in the autumn, convincingly defeating France, Italy and Wales leading up to this encounter.

The visitors latest victory extended their winning streak to 11 matches in the Six Nations, matching the longest run in the history of the Championship alongside England's streak from 2015 to 2017, which was halted by Ireland in the final round of 2017, denying England back-to-back Grand Slams.

England Six Nations form:

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England form (all competitions):

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Ireland Six Nations form:

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Team News

England head coach Steve Borthwick before the match on September 9, 2023© Reuters

Borthwick has announced his team to face the double Grand Slam chasers at Twickenham on Saturday, with three changes to the starting lineup from the team that suffered defeat against Scotland in the Calcutta Cup.

Exeter Chiefs winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso will make his first Test start for the Red Rose, while scrum-half Alex Mitchell and forward George Martin rejoin the starting 15.

Further changes on the bench see Marcus Smith returning from injury to take his place among the replacements, accompanied by Harlequins teammate Alex Dombrandt, who is poised for his first Test appearance of 2024.

Farrell has opted to keep changes to a minimum, making just one adjustment to his starting 15 from the team that convincingly defeated Wales, with Hugo Keenan returning at full-back.

Keenan's return to full fitness and rejoining the starting 15 conincides with the shock injury to to James Ryan, who has now been ruled out entirely for the rest of this year's Six Nations Championship.

England starting lineup: 15 George Furbank, 14 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Tommy Freeman, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 8 Ben Earl, 7 Sam Underhill, 6 Ollie Chessum, 5 George Martin, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Jamie George (c), 1 Ellis Genge

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Chandler Cunningham-South, 20 Alex Dombrandt, 21 Danny Care, 22 Marcus Smith, 23 Elliot Daly

Ireland starting lineup: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Calvin Nash, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Jack Crowley, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O'Mahony (c), 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Joe McCarthy, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter

Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Ryan Baird, 21 Jack Conan, 22 Conor Murray, 23 Ciaran Frawley

SM words green background

We say: England 17-32 Ireland

Ireland are on the verge of a historic feat, as a win here will mark their 12th consecutive victory in this competition and how fitting it would be to take that record off the side that share the current 11-match record with them. The Shamrocks have looked unstoppable to this point, and we expect them to put on another dominant display in this one.

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