Ireland and England both won their opening Six Nations games last weekend and, with France suffering a shock defeat to Italy, Sunday’s clash at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin between these two old foes will surely put one of them in pole position to land this year’s Championship and the Grand Slam – if, of course, it doesn’t finish as a draw.
The boys in green looked on course for a routine victory against Wales last week only for the Red Dragons to come back roaring in the second half and seemingly only run out of time to close down the deficit. The score finished 30-22 to the visitors.
After conceding an early try to Scotland, England cruised to a comfortable 38-18 win and will head to Dublin looking for their third win in a row against Ireland.
In the last two fixtures Ireland have scored exactly nine points with England winning by margins of 11 points and 21 points.
Stuart Lancaster’s men haven’t beaten Declan Kidney’s side in the Six Nations in Ireland since 2003, though.
Overall, Ireland have won seven of the last ten meetings anywhere but Ireland have won only 29 of the 64 matches played on home soil, with the Red Rose winning 31 and the other four draws.
Despite being the second all-time leading points scorers in Six Nations history, Ireland have only lifted the title once in 2009. England have hit the most tries in the competition's history and after France (five) have won the most titles with four.
England’s difficult week is about to get a whole lot harder as they sign off their autumn international series against world champions New Zealand. Not only has Stuart Lancaster had to field some tough questions on the back of Chris Robshaw’s decision to go for three points with time expiring, but Toby Flood is unavailable because of an injured toe.
The Red Rose have been made to pay for some poor decision making in their past two Tests and they know full well they cannot make the same mistakes on Saturday. It’s been nine straight internationals since England overcame the All Blacks and the visitors have convincingly won all three of their matches on this tour.
New Zealand’s average winning margin during the 2012 autumn international series currently stands at 28 points. While England’s past nine defeats at the hands of the All Blacks have been by an average of 20 points.
England’s Autumn International series gets going for real when Australia visit Twickenham. The Aussies are a shadow of their former selves and Robbie Deans is under all sorts of pressure after seeing his side get smashed in Paris last Saturday.
France ran out 33-6 winners in Paris as the Wallabies failed to win a second straight game. Anyone looking at the time of the first try for the tourists may have spotted that the defeat in France was the second straight international that Australia have failed to cross the white line.
Chris Ashton will likely return to the starting XV having served his ban and the winger has had his own scoring troubles. It’s been seven internationals since he last scored, but he bagged a brace when Australia were last in London – including a memorable breakaway try from his own half.
Scott Williams’ superb individual try at Twickenham handed Wales a 20th Triple Crown title in an extremely tight contest with England. The 19-12 victory kept Wales’ dream of a Grand Slam alive, although France remain in the running for the ultimate prize this year.
France could say goodbye to their Grand Slam dreams on Sunday as the two sides prepare to meet in Paris. Two weeks ago Ireland’s game in France was postponed due to the freezing weather and Ireland will finally have a chance to end their dismal run against Les Bleus on Sunday.
Ireland have really struggled against Les Bleus recently and last year’s 26-22 loss at Lansdown Road was the fourth straight defeat against Sunday’s opponents. The Emerald Isle last beat the French in 2009 following a 30-21 triumph and that was their first in 12 internationals playing France.
Spread bettors with an interest in the match supremacy market might like to know that the past two France victories have been close affairs. The average winning margin for those two contests stands at 5.5 points.
Stuart Lancaster’s tenure as England coach got off to a winning start as they edged out Scotland at Murrayfield. It wasn’t pretty, but the 13-6 victory was hugely important ahead of this weekend’s clash with Italy.
The Red Rose hammered Italy 59-13 in last year’s competition to make it 17 victories from 17 internationals against them. Spread bettors looking at the match supremacy market for England’s game at the Stadio Olimpico might have seen that England’s recent games in Italy have been much tighter contests.
England narrowly beat the Italians 17-12 in 2010 and there was nothing to separate the sides at the break. Matthew Tait scored the only try of the game and Martin Castrogiovanni’s yellow card didn’t help Italy after the break.
In 2008 the winning margin was even less as the Red Rose scraped past 19-23. The average winning margin for England’s past three internationals in Italy currently stands at just eight points.