Six Nations: England can end Ireland's Grand Slam dreams

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt's side have clinched the title and are targeting the Grand Slam
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Simon Mail previews the final match at Twickenham and thinks England can scupper Ireland's bid to win the Grand Slam...

"The last four clashes between England and Ireland at Twickenham have all been won by the home side and this could give them the edge. Eddie Jones has won all 14 home matches in charge of England and he will be desperate to hold onto this record."

England v Ireland
Saturday, 14:45
Live on ITV

England with point to prove

After an outstanding record over his first two years in charge, Eddie Jones faces his first major test as England boss after successive defeats. Jones - who has been forced to make an apology after offensive comments about Wales and Ireland emerged this week - guided the team to back-to-back Six Nations titles but defeats to Scotland and France last weekend scuppered their hopes of a historic third successive championship triumph.

Instead, England host new champions Ireland this weekend at Twickenham and will be desperate to avoid another loss which would clinch the Grand Slam for the visitors.

England have lost three of their last five games in the competition, stretching back to the final game of last season, after defeats in Scotland and France over the last month. Their air of invincibility has been completely eroded and the problems have mainly come at the breakdown. A lack of quick ball has stifled their attack and the team have only scored two tries in their last two matches.

Jones has made significant changes for this match with Owen Farrell switching to fly-half and George Ford dropped. Richard Wigglesworth starts at scrum-half ahead of Danny Care while Ben Te'o comes in at inside centre. Hooker Dylan Hartley returns from injury to captain the side while James Haskell earns a recall at open-side flank. Sam Simmonds starts at number eight in place of the injured Nathan Hughes.

Irish set sights on Grand Slam glory

Ireland, the outright tip for the Six Nations, justified faith in them by wrapping up the title with a game to spare. Four wins out of four have given Ireland the chance to win the Grand Slam for only the third time although they face a huge challenge at a ground where wins have proved very hard to come by.

The team's biggest scare came in their opening match in France as they snatched a 15-13 win at the death. Since then, Ireland have taken full advantage of their home games with victories over Italy, Wales and Scotland last week. The form of Jacob Stockdale has been crucial with the winger scoring twice against Scotland to take his tally to six tries in the competition this season. This suggests Stockdale is again worth backing to score this weekend.

Ireland make one change to the team which defeated Scotland with lock Iain Henderson replacing Devin Toner for this clash. Peter O'Mahony, Rob Kearney and Cian Healy have shaken off slight injuries to keep their place in the side. The Irish have overtaken England as the second ranked team in the world, after a run of 11 successive Test wins, but all eyes will be on securing a first Grand Slam since 2009.

England have had the edge over Ireland with six wins in their last eight meetings although the Irish did win last season's match which ruined their Grand Slam hopes. The last four clashes between England and Ireland at Twickenham have all been won by the home side and this could give them the edge. Jones has won all 14 home matches in charge of England and he will be desperate to hold onto this record.

The odds suggest it is very difficult to split these teams in this match but home advantage could make all the difference. It is has been extremely difficult to claim away wins in the Six Nations, especially this season, with the last nine fixtures all producing home wins. A motivated and under-fire England will be determined to spoil Ireland's party, after the disappointment of last year's defeat, with a narrow home victory by up to 12 points appealing in a match of fine margins.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

2017/18 Rugby P/L

Staked: 112pts
Returned: 97.0pts
P/L: -15.0pts

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