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The world-class victory in Dublin is a template for England to beat Ireland in Six Nations encounters

The world-class victory in Dublin is a template for England to beat Ireland in their Six Nations encounter

  • England must appeal to earlier versions to beat Ireland in Six Nations clash
  • They demolished their rivals in Dublin last year and looked like a million dollars
  • In that game, England chose specialized players in their right positions

England has twice brought Ireland to the cleaners in the last 12 months, but only one of those wins counted for a bean, and that was 12 months ago in Dublin when they started their Six Nations campaign with a sensational 32-20 win.

That remains the template for beating Ireland, whether it’s on the road or back in Twickenham. Ignore the 57-15 walloping England that was managed in their August-August warm-up match, which was in fact Ireland’s first contact after a long conditioning summer. England watched a million dollars that day and scored attempts for fun, but as a form guide it was useless.

Dublin, however, was different. That was world-class rugby from England against number one in the world and coming from a glorious 2018.

England must reproduce their performance against Ireland from the Six Nations 2019

England must reproduce their performance against Ireland from the Six Nations 2019

What is important to identify is why England was so good that day. What have they done so well?

First, they chose the right team with players in their best positions. It sounds simple, but it is the secret for almost all successful teams. England had Owen Farrell at No. 10, Manu Tuilagi at No. 12 and Henry Slade at No. 13. They had two specialized wings in Jonny May and Jack Nowell and Mark Wilson, a natural No. 6, were on the blind side, Billy Vunipola was the boss at No. 8 and Tom Curry caused chaos at the opening side flanker.

The selection of players from the position of Eddie Jones has caused much comment this winter and I have kept track of my views many times. So let’s focus on the other things that England did so well in Dublin and have to replicate in Twickenham this afternoon.

England has sent Manu Tuilagi directly back into the side so that they can get the front ball

England has sent Manu Tuilagi directly back into the side so that they can get the front ball

England has sent Manu Tuilagi directly back into the side so that they can get the front ball

They played the full 80 minutes on pace and started like a train, scoring until May in the second minute after an attack with huge carry’s from Tuilagi and Vunipola. England is a team that thrives on that front-foot momentum and that’s why they wanted to get Manu back this week.

England was physically and awkward in a good way. Curry did indeed get a yellow card for a marginal late goal on Keith Earls in the first half, which was a sign of England’s intention to win the clashes.

Today’s competition is coming close. England has enough power at the front, even without Vunipola, to cross the line, but there is no margin for error. If England fires or runs into problems with the referee or injury problems in the back – they only have two backs on the couch – it can end badly.

At the Aviva Stadium, England produced an incredibly physical and dominant performance

At the Aviva Stadium, England produced an incredibly physical and dominant performance

At the Aviva Stadium, England produced an incredibly physical and dominant performance

Harlequins No. 8 Alex Dombrandt should start for England because he has a natural position

Harlequins No. 8 Alex Dombrandt should start for England because he has a natural position

Harlequins No. 8 Alex Dombrandt should start for England because he has a natural position

Wales tests Eddie despite losing against Frans

What a fantastic, old-fashioned Six Nations in Cardiff with the French, rightly so in my opinion, just sipping.

There were some close calls, but I think the officials did them well, although I am sure there are many who disagree.

Two things particularly struck me. First, the five or six minute French defensive set just before half time that kept Wales at bay – that coach Shaun Edwards had written about it. The players were determined not to let the Welsh pass, with players sprinting to get back into the line of defense.

Second, the coolness of France fly-half Romain Ntmack. He didn’t have a perfect game (and he did quite a bit wrong against Italy last time) but this is a young man who has the confidence to make the most important interventions at key moments during a match.

Ntamack has the appearance of a natural winner and France has not had much of it in recent years. I see him and scrum-half Antoine Dupont taking this team a long way.

There was a lot of fun about Wales. They bounced back from the defeat in Ireland and they were alert and moved the ball well. I see that they bring England many problems on March 7 in Twickenham.

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