Ireland can heap more pressure on Eddie Jones

After the World Cup in Japan these two sides looked to be on very different trajectories. England, of course, made the final with a young hungry squad, while Ireland endured a pretty torrid 2019 and were humiliated by the All Blacks in the quarter-finals.

But I have to admit that I may have slightly underestimated this Irish team heading into this tournament - having tipped them for a fourth place finish. I was sceptical about just how much Andy Farrell could improve them (in the short term at least) – but I have been quietly impressed.

The forwards and CJ Stander in particular look rejuvenated under the stewardship of Farrell. If they can slow down the ball as they have in the previous games, then England could be in for a frustrating afternoon. In the backs the likes of Andrew Conway and Jordan Larmour have really caught the eye with their ability to make yards and beat defenders.

I was leaning towards backing Ireland +8 on the handicap, but when I saw the team news I immediately turned to the win market. Now it’s worth bearing in mind that England have a superb home record with just four losses in the last 33 games at HQ – but this will be an Ireland team fired up by Andy Farrell (who returns to Twickenham for the first time as head coach).

I don’t expect a pretty game full of flowing rugby, but it will be a tremendously physical contest, and in a couple of areas I would certainly give the visitors the edge.

They have a better balanced back row and back three, they have the better scrum half (even with Conor Murray struggling for form) and the bench that again looks more balanced and versatile than England’s. Taking all this into account I’m backing Ireland to win at 5/2.

Ireland - 3pts @ 5/2