As expected it was a comprehensive victory for England against Georgia last weekend (40-0). A man of the match performance from Jamie George saw him cross the whitewash a record breaking three times for an English hooker, and it was also the first time since beating Canada 70-0, back in 2004, that they’d won to nil.
Ireland on the other hand, had a much more difficult fixture in the shape of World Cup runners-up Wales. The Irish dominated that game, taking utter control of the first-half and coming out eventual 32-9 winners.
Andy Farrell will be happy with that performance and the character shown by his men to bounce back after their disappointing defeat on the final weekend of the 2020 Six Nations in Paris, which saw them lose out on the title.
That victory did come against a Welsh team on a run of six straight defeats now, while they’ll be without fly-half and captain Jonathan Sexton following the injury he picked up in that one.
With that, they’ll be starting without either Sexton or Conor Murray, and you only have to go back to the 2019 World Cup with their defeat against Japan for the last time they had to play without their captain, and that didn’t turn out too well, while to add to the Irish worries, Robbie Henshaw will also sit this one.
England -9 Point Handicap
The Red Roses have now won 26 of their last 29 games in England dating back to October 2015, as their only two defeats came in 2018 against New Zealand and a prime Ireland outfit under Joe Schmidt.
It’s safe to say that Andy Farrell hasn’t got his men quite to that standard of that team two years ago and the bookies certainly agree.
Of those 29 games, 21 came against Tier One nations (excluding Italy and Japan), covering the 12-point handicap in over half of them.
In fact, against Ireland alone, England have won seven of nine matches here at Twickenham since the start of 2008, as over half of those saw them win by 11 or more points.
That includes a 42-point hammering warming-up for the World Cup last year, while their recent clash in the Six Nations back in February finished 24-12.
Worryingly for Ireland, their four matches against the clear standout best three teams in the world since the start of last year (New Zealand, England and South Africa), have all finished with them being comfortably beaten.
Three of those did come against England themselves, while the Kiwis put 57 points on them at the World Cup in Japan and we’re struggling to see how this one is going to finish any other way than an English victory, especially without Sexton on the field.