Preview: England vs Ireland

With their first two hurdles successfully cleared, Ireland travel to Twickenham on Saturday sniffing the scent of a second Grand Slam in five years.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt's focus is more likely to be on how to tactically pick England apart in the same manner that Wales were left fighting for air two weeks ago.

Inexperience on the wing in Jonny May and Jack Nowell seems to make them ripe for an accurate kicking game from Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney. England's blitz defence is effective but not foolproof.

The Dan Cole factor cannot be underestimated. Cole, still only 25, has started 45 of England's 48 Tests – missing two due to being away with the British & Irish Lions last year. He has been the fulcrum of England's scrum in the Lancaster era, the only starting survivor from the last World Cup.

It's a mistake England coach Stuart Lancaster cannot also make with his flyhalves, hence the inclusion of George Ford on the bench instead of Brad Barritt. Ford and Owen Farrell could be the next great flyhalf duel for years to come, two players who have been team-mates through all age groups and even neighbours.

The comfort of Twickenham will certainly provide solace, as will how well England's lineout has functioned under the guidance of Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes (although less so with Tom Youngs throwing in.) They will be well challenged by Paul O'Connell's men.

England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 David Attwood, 20 Ben Morgan, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Ford, 23 Alex Goode.

Ireland – 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Issac Boss, 22 Paddy Jackson, 23 Fergus McFadden.

Wales vs France preview

Italy vs Scotland preview

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