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England v Ireland: Lancaster’s men can end campaign on a high

| 17.03.2012

England head into their final Six Nations game against Ireland on Saturday as the 4/6 favourites – but they won’t have things all their own way against Declan Kidney’s men.

The mood surrounding the England team could not be any different from the air of despair that followed them around during their disastrous World Cup campaign in the Autumn.

Interim coach Stuart Lancaster has injected a sense of optimism into the squad and used this Six Nations to blood several young, talented Englishmen.

Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi have been excellent in the midfield, while flanker Tom Croft was brilliant against France and exemplified England’s more mobile pack by running over a great try in that victory.

With England making just one change – bringing in winger David Strettle in place of Charlie Sharples – backing Lancaster’s men to triumph on home soil looks very tempting at the 4/6 quoted.

However, England have a dismal record against Ireland in recent seasons and the visitors shouldn’t be discounted going into this St Patrick’s Day clash at 11/8.

Ireland have won six of the previous seven Six Nations games against England and triumphed 20-16 when the sides last met in the championship at Twickenham.

Ireland were excellent against an admittedly poor Scotland team to run over four tries and sweep to victory in their last game and have also made just one change by restoring Sean O’Brien to the starting XV.

Ireland faltered against Wales and in their second-half mauling by France though and the English defence will provide a far sterner test than the poor Scots.

With little to choose between the teams, backing a confident England side to come through and win by 1-5 points at 4/1 looks well worth consideration.



Richard Anderson