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England Set For A Fall ?

26th February 2005 By Munster Rugby

England Set For A Fall ?

Travelling more in hope than in confidence, Andy Robinson s England side look primed for their third successive Six Nations championship defeat at the hands of the Irish at Lansdowne Road.

Travelling more in hope than in confidence, Andy Robinson s England side look primed for their third successive Six Nations championship defeat at the hands of the Irish at Lansdowne Road.

Travelling more in hope than in confidence, Andy Robinson s England side look primed for their third successive Six Nations championship defeat at the hands of the Irish at Lansdowne Road.

There is nothing to suggest from their outings against Wales and France that England have anything to offer that can seriously threaten this Irish side. Simply put, the English pack can, at best just make life difficult for their Irish opponents, the Irish back line, if they get things right can destroy the English unit.

It has to be recalled that in 160 odd minutes of rugby to date, the English have managed just two tries. They came in the opening half of the game against France, a French side who played that opening half with all the enthusiasm of an amoeba. Once the French became aware that the game had actually started the English try threat disappeared.

Putting the shoe on the other foot for a moment, consider this. If Ireland were to travel to Twickenham, without, Reggie Corrigan, John Hayes, Paul O Connell, Simon Easterby, Johnny O Connor, Anthony Foley, Ronan O Gara and Brian O Driscoll, to play a near full strength England side, how would we fancy our chances ?

Because on Sunday, England must perform without their first choice 1, 3, 6, 10, 12, 13, have doubts about their first choice 7 and have yet to come to terms with the loss of Johnson, Back and Dallaglio. Now would Ireland cope with that sort of player haemorrhage ?

England are without 10 of the side that played in the World Cup final. Of those on the bench that day, three have retired, two more are not involved at Test level while other squad members such as Stuart Abbot and Julian White are on the very long injured list.

So no matter how much talk there is about, backlash and after all they are the World Champions this England side is there for the taking.

Yes they will come out all guns blazing and the Irish will have to absorb a load of pressure but they will not be able to sustain that charge. And every time they lapse for a moment they ll be punished. Hard earned territory will be ceded if Ronan O Gara gets his hands on the ball, he ll drive them downfield to try and start again. Turnover ball will allow the Irish backs the space to create the same havoc as a fox in a hen-house and the rookie centres, Noon and Barkley won t know which way to look – except out from under the goalposts at O Gara kicking goals.

It may have to wait until the final quarter for Ireland to assert themselves but there is the perfect opportunity on Sunday for Ireland to inflict a severe defeat on an under-strength English side.

Ireland: G Murphy (Leicester); G Dempsey (Leinster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), S Horgan (Leinster), D Hickie (Leinster); R O’Gara (Munster), P Stringer (Munster); R Corrigan (Leinster), S Byrne (Leinster), J Hayes (Munster), M O’Kelly (Leinster), P O’Connell (Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli), J O’Connor (Wasps), A Foley (Munster). Replacements: F Sheahan (Munster), M Horan (Munster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), E Miller (Leinster), G Easterby (Leinster), D Humphreys (Ulster), K Maggs (Ulster).

England: J Robinson (Sale Sharks, capt); M Cueto (Sale Sharks), J Noon (Newcastle), O Barkley (Bath), J Lewsey (Wasps); C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), H Ellis (Leicester); G Rowntree (Leicester), S Thompson (Northampton), M Stevens (Bath), D Grewcock (Bath), B Kay (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), L Moody (Leicester), M Corry (Leicester). Replacements: A Titterrell (Sale Sharks), D Bell (Bath), S Borthwick (Bath), A Hazell (Gloucester), M Dawson (Wasps), A Goode (Leicester), O Smith (Leicester).

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