Ireland’s Grand Slam goes from a ‘green sweep’ to pub brawl

Ireland celebrate Grand Slam win - AFP/Paul Faith
Ireland celebrate Grand Slam win - AFP/Paul Faith

By Daniel Schofield at the Aviva Stadium

And so the universal prediction of an Ireland Grand Slam on St Patrick’s weekend came to pass. Records were broken, tears were shed and flags were waved. Yet for the best part of an hour 14-man England turned the procession into a pub brawl. At one point in the second half, the stadium announcer stated the score was 10-0 to Ireland rather than 10-9 after Owen Farrell’s third penalty kick.

England’s defiance was that unexpected, coming after their capitulation to France last week.

That had made a crushing Ireland victory seem as inevitable as a soaring trade in paracetamol among the Dublin pharmacies on the morning after the St Patrick’s Day festivities. The culmination of Super Saturday was deemed little more than a coronation to celebrate the 50th cap of Josh van der Flier, Johnny Sexton’s Six Nations swansong and the small matter of securing a first Grand Slam in Dublin. England were no more than page boys in the order of service.

But from the moment that Ellis Genge drove Sexton back, allowing the outstanding Jack Willis to pounce for a turnover, it was clear that the world’s No1 side were going to have to scrap and grind their way to victory. No wonder Sexton permitted himself a little jig when converting Dan Sheehan’s second try that took Ireland three scores clear in the 67th minute.

“Embarrassing” and “cringey” was head coach Andy Farrell’s verdict on Sexton’s dancing skills, although he did soften those blows by describing the 37-year-old fly-half as Ireland’s greatest player.

“He’s one of the best, if not the best, Ireland has ever produced,” Farrell said. What a way for him to go out of the Six Nations, lifting the trophy on a Grand Slam.”

Who knows how excruciatingly uncomfortable Ireland’s night might have been had England displayed better discipline, conceding 10 penalties in the first half alone. The most costly of which came as the half seemed to be about to draw to a close. Mack Hansen’s forward pass bobbled near the touchline but, as Hugo Keenan regathered possession, he was faced with Freddie Steward, who turned his body to brace for impact. As he did so his elbow made contact with the head of Keenan. It is this type of incident that rugby union ties itself in knots over.

Keenan was concussed but one can argue Steward was merely standing his ground. The definition of a rugby incident seems to have been written on a page that has fallen out of the lawbook. When Jaco Peyper asked the rest of his officiating team for mitigation the fact that Steward had a split second to react to a bouncing ball was not considered. Every slowed-down replay made his fate and so for the second successive Six Nations match against Ireland, England were down to 14.

It is to their immense credit that they stayed in the fight. But once Robbie Henshaw sliced past some tired English shoulders to score Ireland’s second try after 61 minutes, the party in the stands of the Aviva Stadium could truly start.

Sexton, who surpassed his great rival Ronan O’Gara as the championship’s record points scorer, was afforded a standing ovation when he was replaced in the 73rd minute in his 60th and final Six Nations appearance. Of course, he trudged off with a scowl and a limp due a groin injury.

Robbie Henshaw scores against England - Getty Images/Seb Daly
Robbie Henshaw scores against England - Getty Images/Seb Daly

Nowhere was the relief more palpable than in the Ireland coaching box. Andy Farrell had warned his team on Thursday that “desperation is an illness” only to watch that virus rip through his previous immunised team. Kicks were skewed and offloads went to ground. Tadhg Furlong was given a mighty uncomfortable time by Genge at the scrum.

Yet just as they had done at Murrayfield last week when they lost half their pack to injury, Ireland found a way to adapt when the script went in some strange directions. “The adversity that we have gone through and we have relished it really and come out of the other side,” Farrell said. “You look at all of the games, there’s been all sorts of stuff going on, but we have always found a way.”

It is testament to Ireland’s staggering depth that they got over the line here without three certain starters in the form of the injured Garry Ringrose, Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne. Probably the biggest compliment that you could pay Farrell’s squad is that they are not reliant on three or four big-game performers as many sides are. There is always someone willing to step up.

Against England, the generally unheralded hooker Sheehan came to the fore. He scored the first try hitting a line full of devil and determination. His second showcased his skill and speed in the wide channels. James Ryan, who did not make the Lions tour two seasons ago, was also back to his very best form.

Rob Herring scores a try against England - Getty Images/David Rogers
Rob Herring scores a try against England - Getty Images/David Rogers

Embracing the tag of favourites has never sat easily with Ireland. This is a team who relish the role of plucky underdog. Farrell has transformed that mentality. They now run towards their destiny. Even when they were rattled by England, you never felt Ireland lost their grip on the result. They may have saved their worst till last, but Grand Slams are never supposed to be easy.

This Ireland team deserve to be considered alongside the England side of 2003 as the best of the Six Nations era. As Sexton pointed out, the next step that side made was to win the World Cup.

That is a big step for Ireland, who have never been past the quarter-finals, especially given their fiendish draw. “I have just been saying to Johnny that there are bigger fish to fry than this,” Farrell said. “We’re a good side that’s nowhere near reached its potential.”

Ireland beat England to secure Grand Slam: As it happened

08:27 PM

That wraps up another Six Nations

And what a championship it's been. Ireland were deserved Grand Slam winners confirming their status as world No 1. Can they go one better at the World Cup later this year? Based on the past two months they have to go in as favourites alongside hosts France.

07:54 PM

The big talking point of the match was of course the red card

For Freddie Steward. In the ITV studio there were two camps - Sir Clive Woodward felt it was harsh and a yellow at best, while Brian O'Driscoll thought red was the correct decision due to a duty of care for Hugo Keenan - who didn't return to the pitch.

It was no different elsewhere - here Charlie Morgan looks back at the controversial moment.

READ: Freddie Steward sent off against Ireland – but was referee right to dismiss full-back?

07:48 PM

Player ratings - who shone and who had a game to forget?

England may have lost again, but there were positives to take for Steve Borthwick's side - as Ben Coles' ratings from today's match illustrate.

READ: Ireland v England player ratings: Jack Willis shines despite yellow card

Jack Willis made his presence felt before being shown a yellow card - Getty Images/David Rogers
Jack Willis made his presence felt before being shown a yellow card - Getty Images/David Rogers

07:43 PM

'No hard feelings, son'

Owen Farrell with his dad, Andy Farrell, the Ireland coach - Getty Images/Dan Mullan
Owen Farrell with his dad, Andy Farrell, the Ireland coach - Getty Images/Dan Mullan

07:38 PM

Andy Farrell speaks to ITV - 'It was squeaky bum time at 10-9'

On the emotions of leading Ireland to the Grand Slam...

"It means so much to everyone here - to be able to do a St Patrick's weekend and win a Grand Slam is always going to be special."

On the pressure of getting over the line...

"It was squeaky bum time at 10-9. The pressure that France put on in the last couple of games, we knew it was win at all costs...It was a proper old-fashioned Test match. We were disappointed with some aspects of our game but we've a bonus-point win. That's where we're at at the moment."

On Johnny Sexton playing his final Six Nations game...

"Hopefully there's bigger fish to fry for Johnny with the World Cup. It's unbelievable for him to have this moment and lift the trophy. He wanted to lift it with someone else and I said he mustn't. He deserves it. What a way for him to go out of the Six Nations."

07:35 PM

That Grand Slam feeling

The Ireland squad celebrate a well-deserved Grand Slam - Getty Images/Dan Mullan
The Ireland squad celebrate a well-deserved Grand Slam - Getty Images/Dan Mullan
The fans get ready to celebrate in the stands - Getty Images/Seb Daly
The fans get ready to celebrate in the stands - Getty Images/Seb Daly
Ireland players - PA/Brian Lawless
Ireland players - PA/Brian Lawless

07:29 PM

Johnny Sexton speaking to the BBC - 'It's like living a dream'

On winning the Grand Slam...

"You could not make this up, it is like living in a dream."

On the performance today....

"We did not play our best but what a team. What a group of coaches. We did nothing that they told us, in fact the exact opposite but we made things hard for ourselves...England are a top class team. To get a win on St Patrick's weekend is unbelievable. We did not quite nail it, but we did enough."

On his future...

"It is the best tournament to play in, the best country to play for. We are so proud to be Irish. It does not feel like the end, there is plenty left in this team, we need to improve on today and we will be back."

07:25 PM

Owen Farrell speaks to ITV - 'I thought the red card was harsh'

On Ireland's achievement

"First of all congratulations to Ireland - winning a Grand Slam is special."

On England's improve performance...

"As for us we showed a tremendous amount of of fight. We gave too many penalties in first half and allowed them in. The game changed with the [red] card. We still showed fight and stuck in and looked like we were causing them problems. But in the end against a team like Ireland it told."

On whether he felt Steward should have been shown a red card...

"Not for me to have an opinion. It seemed harsh to me but the people make a rules for a reason. That's all I can say on it"

What next for England...

"We go back to our clubs, work hard to become better players. Next time we get together we spend a lot of time together so can build towards the future."

On Johnny Sexton...

"He's orchestrated [the Grand Slam]m he's been at the forefront of it and this epitomises what he's about."

07:17 PM

Time to celebrate

07:11 PM

Sir Clive Woodward on ITV...

"This time last week I was in shock but this week I am really proud of that England team."

07:10 PM

Ireland's James Ryan speaks to ITV...

On the initial emotion about winning the Grand Slam...

"It's been a special week and about delivering today - didn't go quite right in the first half but got it right in the end"

On the pressure heading into the match...

"There was pressure but it's the same with every game. As I said, we were off kilter in the first half but good to test ourselves...These are the days, it's special, it's really special."

07:03 PM

FULL-TIME: Ireland 29-16 England

The greatest Ireland team ever? They were made to really fight for that win by an England who can really take a lot out of this match. Was the red card the key moment in that match? We'll never know what would have happened had Steward not been sent off but I think the better side won and once the Irish have finished celebrating this Slam they will start to focus on possible World Cup glory later this year.

07:00 PM

80 mins: Ireland 29-16 England

It's just a case of Jaco Peyper blowng his whistle but not before England have a line-out six yard from the Ireland line. They've fought and fought since the first minute - can they get a consolation try?

No they cannot and Ireland's Grand Slam is confirmed.

06:56 PM


Ireland 29-16 England

The pressure has finally worn England down. As Ireland don't look the gift horse of a great chance to score another try in the mouth. They move the ball right they have an overlap and it's simple as Rob Herring goes on the shortside before going go over in the corner. Byrne misses the conversion but it doesn't matter.

06:53 PM

74 mins: Ireland 24-16 England

There are a host of changes among them a double change at half-back for the hosts - Murray and Byrne are one for Gibson-Park and Sexton. That may well be the latter's last Six Nations match and what a way to go out - assuming Ireland do secure the Grand Slam.

Meanwhile, they're looking at a tackle from Donbrandt on Sheehan. It's whether he taking him beyond the horizontal - there is the mitigation of another player in the way (Tuilagi, I think) but it's given as a yellow card and England will end the match with 13 men and that is definitely that.

06:49 PM


Ireland 24-16 England

This match isn't over regardless of what the crowd thinks. As Jamie George goes over from short range. Farrell adds the extras and it's back to an eight-point game.

06:47 PM

71 mins: Ireland 24-9 England

The crowd certainly believe the Grand Slam is Ireland's as they break out into a rendition of Fields of Athenry.

06:42 PM


Ireland 24-9 England

Sheehan in the right corner and that, you suspect, is that. Ireland have been increasingly testing the short side and they have joy from it here. Sheehan makes the initial break. The ball is then recycled before Conan offloads brilliantly while seen to by two England defenders and Sheehan goes over. Sexton then drills the conversion and allows himself a jig in celebration.

06:41 PM

The crucial score?

Henshaw goes over for that important Ireland try.

06:40 PM

66 mins: Ireland 17-9 England

Ireland know this is all about game-management for them now. Does Borthwick throw Marcus Smith on to try and create something out of nothing?

06:38 PM

64 mins: Ireland 17-9 England

You feel England need the next score - they've been immense, physical and hugely competitive but with a man down you suspect they'll start to feel their big hits as the game enters the last 15 minutes.

06:36 PM


Ireland 17-9 England 

From the scrum Ireland go left and try to barge over the line with Aki. They have an advantage and the centre goes to ground, Gibson-Park then goes the other way and the man advantage finally tells as Henshaw goes over virtually unopposed. Sexton is perfect with the conversion and the hosts have a bit of breathing space.

06:33 PM

60 mins: Ireland 10-9 England

Great kick from Sexton pegs Watson right at the back of England's 22. Hansen then drives his opposite number over the line and Ireland will have a five-metre scrum.

What can they create from this?

06:31 PM

60 mins: Ireland 10-9 England

Changes for Ireland - Furlong makes way for O'Toole.

Change for England - Marchant on for Arundell.

06:30 PM

58 mins: Ireland 10-9 England

England win a scrum penalty and once again it's clear things are not going Ireland's way. Porter was the man penalised there. England are winning the match since the Steward red card. But as I type England are penalised for holding on while in the Ireland half.

06:27 PM

56 mins: Ireland 10-9 England

Sexton has just made a poor kick from inside his 22 - it's gifts England a line-out in a great position. He is human and that also sums up the way the match is going for Ireland. But they'd do well to remember they still lead and have a man advantage. Also they win the line-out and kick long.

Meanwhile, Connan is on for O'Mahony.

06:25 PM

54 mins: Ireland 10-9 England

England are kicking every chance they get, no real shock there with them being a man down.

06:23 PM

52 mins: Ireland 10-9 England

Ireland line-out - it goes to the back, Peter O'Mahony tries to collect and knocks-on in the process. That sort of sums up the match so far for the hosts - nothing has really clicked for them so far.

06:21 PM


Ireland 10-9 England 

The first points of the half, with a man down, go to England, thanks to Farrell. We still have a mighty contest on our hands. Compelling viewing.

06:19 PM

50 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

From the resulting scrum, England win a penalty and they once again cheer. They are trying to play in the Irish half, force the errors and then kick the penalties. That's the game plan and so far since the break it's working - assuming Farrell knocks this three points between the posts.

06:17 PM

48 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

Great kick from Farrell. O'Brien comes to collect and knocks-on. England celebrate and well they might, they are playing exactly as you should when down to 14 men.

06:15 PM

45 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

England have done well so far this half - they have an attacking line-out in the Ireland half but Ireland win it, then gift the ball straight back. A bit scrappy since the break.

06:13 PM

42 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

We've already seen the effects of England being a man down. A Farrell kick is chased by just the one England attacker, it's gobble dup by Lowe and Aki, I think, and the ball is popped left to Gibson-Park and the scrum-half charges down the left flank, opting to kick rather than keep the ball in hand and it goes off in the England 22.

Meanwhile, it's been confirmed that Keenan has failed his HIA - O'Brien is the man to replace him.

06:10 PM

40 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

They're back under way at the Aviva Stadium - what can 14-man England do this 40 minutes?

06:08 PM

Here's the key moment from the first half

The moment Steward's elbow caught Keenan's head.

Steward - ITV
Steward - ITV
Steward - Getty Images
Steward - Getty Images

06:03 PM

Here's that well-executed try from Sheehan

It's the difference between the sides at the moment.

06:00 PM

Daniel Schofield's half-time verdict

The first half was a story of English defiance and discipline, or lack thereof as they conceded a staggering 10 penalties and had Freddie Steward sent off. First the good stuff. From the off, England played with a physicality that had been utterly absent last week in the record defeat to France. Passivity had been replaced by passion, epitomised by the rampaging performance of Jack Willis who made an astonishing 20 tackles. Perhaps for the first time in this Championship Ireland were rattled. Kicks were skewed and offloads went to ground as against all odds England built a 6-0 lead.

Despite more than holding their own, England were ultimately undone by their discipline getting on the wrong side of Jaco Peyper. A soft Ellis Genge penalty gave Ireland the platform to score from a clever lineout move finished by hooker Dan Sheehan. Then in first half injury time, Steward was sent off for making direct contact with the head of opposite number Hugo Keenan. It was more clumsy than malicious but a red card became more inevitable with every passing replay.

England won a moral victory by holding out Ireland in the final play of the half but with 14 men their chances of raining on the Irish Grand Slam parade seem remote.

05:55 PM

HALF-TIME: Ireland 10-6 England

Big last couple of minutes there. England are down to 14 men and with Ireland having their noses (just) in front England will require a Herculean effort after the break to win this. That's what they've put in this half in a performance a world away from their humiliation against France. But with the man advantage the much-heralded Irish attack, that was far from it's fluent best during the first 40, may well fancy its chances over the second 40.

05:51 PM

42 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

Ireland now have the ball in the England 22 with a man advantage - what can they do here? They are just five yards out Baird, then Furlong both attempt to barge over from close range. England are defending with everything they've got and force the knock-on. They will feel like a moral win for the visitors.

05:49 PM

40 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

From the line-out they work the ball wide at pace - they had the numbers but the execution is just found wanting and Hansen plays a forward pass. The crowd, however, aren't happy as Steward has gone into Keenan after that forward pass. It looks as though he's trying to get out of the way, there's contact to the head with his elbow and in slow motion it doesn't look good. Even though he does look as though he's trying to avoid him there's no mitigation and he is shown the red card. Steward is pleading his case but it falls on deaf ears 'I had a millisecond [to get out the way]' the full-back said...

Huge moment in this game. The letter of the law probably means it's the right decision from Jaco Peyper but at the same time it's very harsh on Steward.

05:46 PM

38 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

For once Arundell has the ball in a bit of space but he's well defended by the Irish and the ball is turned over. England are then offside after the resulting scrum and Sexton kicks for touch. There are just 40 seconds to go until the break but they could be a big 40 seconds.

05:41 PM

35 mins: Ireland 10-6 England

Over the past 10 minutes or so the possession and territory stats had been moving in Ireland's favour and that try didn't come out of the blue, despite England's decent defence so far.

Meanwhile, there's a knock-on from Farrell and it's scrum for the hosts on halfway.

05:40 PM


Ireland 10-6 England

From the resulting line-out Ireland go to the back, Van der Flier then breaks off the back of the maul before playing a lovely inside pass that Dan Sheehan races on to. He is away and charges from about 20 yards over the whitewash. Great, well-worked try.

Sexton adds the extras and the hosts are ahead for the first time.

05:36 PM

29 mins: Ireland 3-6 England

Sexton put in the up and under that Keenan collects brilliantly. But England are ensuring the hosts aren't getting quick ball and that's making life hard for the hosts. England are offside however and it's a penalty for the Irish. Again they opt to kick for the corner.

05:34 PM

The record-breaking kick from Sexton

Sexton passes O'Gara's Six Nations points scoring record - PA/Donall Farmer
Sexton passes O'Gara's Six Nations points scoring record - PA/Donall Farmer

05:31 PM

26 mins: Ireland 3-6 England

Donbrandt gives away a needless penalty by barging into Sexton. The Ireland fly-half then kicks for touch. From the resulting line-out, the men in green get into the England 22, they are being patient, working through the phases and waiting for the opening. They move the ball from right to left but there's no way through as Baird knocks-on. This England defence is on the money today and Ireland are finding life tough in attack.

05:28 PM

24 mins: Ireland 3-6 England

There are hints of Ireland's attacking prowess, they are beginning to tick as Hansen and Henshaw get over the gain line.

05:25 PM

20 mins: Ireland 3-6 England

Ireland are making a few unforced errors - they make another here to gift England a line-out on the Irish 22. Tuilagi barge through in the midfield, the visitors are asking questions of the hosts here. After seven seconds Lowe knocks Watson back in the tackle and England have to regroup. Regroup they do, Steward, Ludlum and Tuilagi nearly work an opening on the right but great defensive work from Lowe and Sexton bundle the men in white into touch.

Ireland know they are in a Ttest match here.

05:22 PM


Ireland 3-6 England

England defence is doing well but are giving away a few penalties here - they do so again and Sexton gets the hosts on the board and in doing so moves to 560 point in the Six Nations, a record, passing his compatriot Ronan O'Gara. And for the first time I can recall a players gets a standing ovation for slotting home a penalty from in front of the posts. What a servant to Irish rugby he's been.

05:19 PM

15 mins: Ireland 0-6 England

From the restart Ireland through the pace of Keenan, the ball eventually comes to Furling and rather than offload the prop takes the ball into contact. And with that the chance for a try goes begging.

The visitors are really taking the game to the Irish attack.

05:17 PM


Ireland 0-6 England 

England once again opt for the points and Farrell doubles the visitors' lead. The start by England is so far away from last week's that part of you questions whether it's the same side....

05:15 PM

12 mins: Ireland 0-3 England

England are kicking well at the moment. They have a line-out on the Ireland 22, it's won by Itoje and Andrew Porter gives away a penalty.

05:14 PM

8 mins: Ireland 0-3 England

A bit of kick tennis and it's Ireland who blink first as Keenan puts in a poor kick. But England gift Ireland a penalty and Sexton, as he did before, kicks for touch.

This line-out is on the outskirts of England's 22 - what can they do from here? They work the ball into the danger zone thanks to Van der Flier, and that was decent defence from England. But there's another penalty that Sexton takes quickly and goes over the line. It's not clear if (i) he touches down or (ii) if England were offside. The answer to both is no. Good positive period for England there.

05:08 PM


Ireland 0-3 England 

Farrell doesn't miss those (although he's had a poor championship with the boot) as he slots home the penalty from in front of the posts.

05:07 PM

4 mins: Ireland 0-0 England

England are bossing the turnovers at the moment - something I didn't write about last week's defeat to France. The visitors are inside Ireland's 22, on the eighth pahse Slade is well tackled by Henshaw. But England recycle the ball well and they are still in the hosts' 22, they earn a penalty cannot make use of the advantage and come back for the infringement. Great, promising start for England. They decide to go for the points.

05:04 PM

2 mins: Ireland 0-0 England

Farrell gives away an early penalty tackling the man in the air. Sexton, his opposite number, kicks for touch. From the resulting line-out they move the ball down the line through the hands. The work through the phases - all seven of them - before the visitors turn the ball over. Early promising signs for England. The line speed defensively was good from Borthwick's boys there and not overcommitting men at the ruck.

05:01 PM

1 min: Ireland 0-0 England

They're under way in Dublin - England cannot afford to get off to another poor start...

04:58 PM

There's clearly a sizable England contingent in the crowd

As they belt out Got Save the King with gusto. But they are outvoiced by the hosts (no shock there...)

04:53 PM

The two teams are out on the pitch

And it's national anthem time.

04:49 PM

This could be Johnny Sexton's last Six Nations game

What a way it would be for the Ireland No 10 to bow out as a Grand Slam winner. He's been immense for his country since his debut way back in 2009.

Johnny Sexton has been described as Ireland's on-field coach - Getty Images/Ramsey Cardy
Johnny Sexton has been described as Ireland's on-field coach - Getty Images/Ramsey Cardy

04:35 PM

I am sure many of you will have questions about what's about to unfold in Dublin

Charlie Morgan will be answering as many as possible after the match so please get them in the comments below.

04:32 PM

Ireland are ready

04:28 PM

Andy Farrell

Is all but Irish these days. He, alongside Fabien Galthie, is the hottest coach in world rugby at the moment. His Ireland side have won 21 of their past 23 Tests - the two defeats coming away to France and New Zealand - are world No 1 and heavily fancied to win the Grand Slam this afternoon.

So it's no shock why England may well be kicking themselves over letting him go from their coaching set up in 2015 and have an eye on him be be their main man in the future.

But as Oliver Brown argues, why would be want to leave Dublin for Twickenham?

READ: No wonder Andy Farrell scorns the idea of going back to England

Under Andy Farrell Ireland have gone from strength to strength - Getty Images/Sam Barnes
Under Andy Farrell Ireland have gone from strength to strength - Getty Images/Sam Barnes

04:10 PM

Weather update

Rain, rain, has gone away, to come again another day...At least that's according to Charlie Morgan and the BBC weather app.

04:02 PM

Ireland expects

It's St Patrick's Day weekend, their team is bidding for a Grand Slam, and they have a chance to secure it against the old enemy.

Ireland fans get ready to cheer their side on in Dublin - Getty Images/Harry Murphy
Ireland fans get ready to cheer their side on in Dublin - Getty Images/Harry Murphy
A young Ireland fan on his way to the Aviva Stadium - Getty Images/Ramsey Cardy
A young Ireland fan on his way to the Aviva Stadium - Getty Images/Ramsey Cardy
An Ireland fan after something close to gold dust - an ticket the today's match - Getty Images/Harry Murphy
An Ireland fan after something close to gold dust - an ticket the today's match - Getty Images/Harry Murphy

03:54 PM

If there's a stat to illustrate the size of the task England face

Perhaps it's this one.

England have conceded 14 tries this championship, to Ireland's four.

Ireland have scored 16 tries to England's 11.

03:48 PM

So if England are to produce a big upset... will they make it happen?

Well, they cannot afford as bad a start as last week. The match against France was effectively over as a contest within the first 10 minutes. They have to take their chances and and be brave in attack.

If you want a detailed analysis on how Steve Borthwick's side should go about achieving what many think to be Mission Impossible then here's Charlie Morgan's lowdown on the four key areas England will target to upset Ireland

Against Ireland's slick, intricate attack England will need to defend well and follow defence coach Kevin Sinfield's advice - Getty Images/David Rogers
Against Ireland's slick, intricate attack England will need to defend well and follow defence coach Kevin Sinfield's advice - Getty Images/David Rogers

02:48 PM

These two have served up a host of good scores over the years

02:27 PM

Rain = kicks

02:04 PM

The two XVs

IRELAND XV TO FACE ENGLAND: Backs – Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, James Lowe, Johnny Sexton, Jamison Gibson-Park,

Forwards – Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Tadhg Furlong, Ryan Baird, James Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, Caelan Doris

Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Kieran Treadwell, Jack Conan, Conor Murray, Ross Byrne, Jimmy O’Brien

ENGLAND XV TO FACE IRELAND: BacksFreddie Steward, Anthony Watson, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Henry Arundell, Owen Farrell, Jack van Poortvliet

Forwards – Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, David Ribbans, Lewis Ludlam, Jack Willis, Alex Dombrandt.

Replacements: Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Dan Cole, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell, Marcus Smith, Joe Marchant

12:46 PM

Ireland refuse to underestimate England

On the face of it a trip to Dublin is the last fixture England would have wanted. Humiliated (obliterated, humbled, thrashed, had their pants pulled down - are all equally adept words and phrases to describe the result...) 53-10 at Twickenham last weekend, they travel to the world No 1 ranked side, a XV that beat the France 32-19.

Jamie George said in the run up to today that a similar drubbing cannot happen again. But such is the strength of this Irish side and the state of the England team that another embarrassing defeat is far from the realms of possibility. Even though Dublin has never been an easy place for teams to go, it is hard to remember a time when England travelled across the Irish Sea with expectations so low, and fears of another soul-searching defeat so high.

Such is the contrasting emotions surrounding both teams that perhaps the one thing that might scupper the Grand Slam-chasing Irish is complacency - if they play half as good as they have during their run of 21 wins in their past 23 Tests then no one expects anything other than victory. But Peter O'Mahony insists Ireland will not be taking England lightly.

"I'm not buying it," the backrower said when asked if they expect England to play as badly as they did last Saturday. "I've been lucky enough to play alongside a big chunk of that English team and I know how proud they are.

"I know what quality of player they are, quality of person they are, and how important it would be for them to put on a performance for themselves more than anyone, to show themselves the potential that I certainly know they have.

"We're expecting the best version of those English boys to come to the Aviva."

Stay here for all the pre-match build-up and action in what should be a compelling match at the Aviva Stadium.