England vs Ireland Match preview

Venue: Aviva Stadium Date: Saturday, 18 March Kick-off: 17:00 GMT

England make two changes as they aim to achieve consecutive Grand Slams, the first in Six Nations history. Billy Vunipola is preferred to Nathan Hughes, who has been superb throughout the tournament and Anthony Watson replaces Jack Nowell on the wing.

Ireland have been forced into two changes from the side that overcame Wales last week. Conor Murray is out with a shoulder injury so Kieran Marmion will wear the number 9 shirt. Injured Rob Kearney is replaced by Jared Payne. The other Ireland change made by Schmidt is tactical, Iain Henderson comes in for Devin Toner.

This showdown on St Patrick’s weekend in Dublin is going to be the highlight of the Rugby weekend. Ireland will be out to rain on England’s parade whilst England will be going for their second consecutive Grand Slam and the chance to beat New Zealand’s record of 18 wins on the trot which they equalled last weekend when they mauled Scotland.

Ireland: Payne; Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Zebo; Sexton, Marmion; McGrath, Best (captain), Furlong; Ryan, Henderson; Stander, O’Brien, Heaslip,

Replacements: Scannell, Healy, Ryan, Toner, O’Mahony, McGrath, Jackson, Conway.

England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, Daly; Ford, Youngs; Marler, Hartley (captain), Cole; Launchbury, Lawes; Itoje, Haskell, B Vunipola.

Replacements: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Hughes, Care, Te’o, Nowell.

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

Touch judges: Mathieu Raynal (France) & Marius Mitrea (Italy)

TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Prediction- England Win

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