Good afternoon! The match which many have predicted will decide this season's Six Nations
championship gets underway in half an hour, with England and Ireland
both looking to make it three out of three so far this year. Let's recap the starting lineups for today's match...
IRELAND STARTING XV: Kearney, Bowe, Payne, Henshaw, Zebo, Sexton, Murray, McGrath, Best, Ross, Toner, O'Connell, O'Brien, Murphy
ENGLAND STARTING XV: Goode, Watson, Joseph, Burrell, Nowell, Ford, Yungs, Marler, Hartley, Cole, Attwood, Kruis, Haskell, Robshaw, Vunipola
For the home side there's just one change to the side that started the win over France two weeks ago, with Jordi Murphy coming in for the injured Jamie Heaslip. England have gone for two changes, as Alex Goode comes in for Mike Brown, who hasn't recovered from a concussion, while Jack Nowell is preferred to Jonny May at wing.
England's recent record against Ireland is good. As well as winning their last three matches in the Six Nations, the team also beat Ireland in a World Cup warmup match four years ago, so a win this afternoon would make it five in a row for Stuart Lancaster's side, although not all of them would be during his spell in charge.
Ireland, who are looking to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1949, are not an easy side to beat at the Aviva Stadium though. Joe Schmidt's team have won four of their last five encounters in the Six Nations on home soil.
Here's the home side arriving for today's encounter a short time ago:
Ahead of kickoff, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt told reporters: "We will miss Jamie Heaslip's experience to be honest. He's very much a big-game player with big-game temperament. So it's a big challenge for Peter O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien to help Jordi map his way around the pitch. Jordi Murphy's very quiet, he doesn't really say a lot, gets on with the job and other people. He's a workaholic around the pitch."
England only lost out on the title last year because of points difference, and captain Chris Robshaw said in his press conference that the team haven't forgotten that ahead of today's meeting with the defending champions: "It was tough to take. When you're sat there hundreds of miles apart you're pretty helpless. The worst bit about last year was probably seeing something like that happen and being photographed at the time and then the next day seeing the two extremes in the way the camps reacted across every paper. We all had a beer together after and said 'we've got to continue learning from this'. We are getting better but it's one thing getting better, you've got to be picking up that silverware. I don't think guys need much motivation for this game. It's going to be built up, it's going to be exciting. Two great teams going at it."
The players are on the field ready for kickoff, with the anthems from both countries to be played as part of the pre-match formalities.
After this weekend, both of these sides will have two games left to try to clinch the title. Wales, who are still in contention to win the tournament, will be up next for Ireland, ahead of a match against Scotland in their final fixture. Meanwhile, England host Scotland for the Calcutta Cup next time out before finishing with a tricky fixture against France.
PREDICTION! As the Ireland rugby anthem booms around the stadium, there's just time for a quick prediction. Ireland will always feel like favourites at home, and they'll be desperate to end England's recent run against them. England have looked strong so far though, so it won't be easy for either side. The Dublin crowd could just be enough to lift the home side though, so I'm going for a narrow 20-18 win for Ireland.
KICKOFF! England get the action underway!
Simon Zebo makes a couple of quick burst forward as the hosts immediately try to put the visitors under pressure, and they get a penalty for an offside. It's a decent start for the defending champions.
PENALTY! Ireland 3-0 England (Jonny Sexton)
Ireland get some early points on the board as Jonny Sexton elects to go for the posts with the early penalty. Ireland are quickly back in a strong position too as Vunipola tries to find Good, but the full-back makes the catch in touch, so it's a lineout for the hosts.
Ireland are really taking it to England early as Paul O'Connell charges down the right before a knock on gives them a scrum inside the five-metre line. The home side will be sniffing an opening try.
Rory Best tries to power over through the posts, but England knock on again, and as the move stalls the referee is forced to blow for another home scrum. Meanwhile there's an early injury concern for Stuart Lancaster's side as Dan Cole is getting his hand looked at.
Murray and O'Brien are pressuring England under the posts again as the home side bear down on the try line, but the visitors illegally hold them up, so it's another shot at the posts for Sexton.
PENALTY! Ireland 6-0 England (Jonny Sexton)
Sexton is as reliable as ever for Ireland as he boots it through to double the home side's advantage. England manage to go on the offensive for the first time following the kickoff, with Vunipola and Goode getting the visitors into Irish territory.
England force a lineout, which allows Youngs to find May, but his path is quickly blocked. He returns it to Youngs, who in turn finds Dan Cole. It's slow but steady progress for the visitors, but they are inching closely to the try line.
DROP GOAL! Ireland 6-3 England (George Ford)
England have a penalty advantage, but try to keep the ball alive to go for the try. They can't find a way through though, so when it's tossed back to George Ford
, he boots it over to take the three points and get the visitors off the mark.
O'Connell and McGrath try to put England under pressure again, and the home side manage to force a scrum. They can't get set properly though, so England get to boot it away to Zebo, who is looking lively as he tries to bring it out for Ireland.
MISSED PENALTY! George Ford looks to add his second kick of the day as England are awarded a penalty as Zebo fails to release the ball. It's well within the young fly-half's range, but he appears to slip just as he plants his foot to boots it through, and slices it left.
Zebo is on the charge again from the kickoff. Bowe has been Ireland's main man on the return so far, so England appear to want to keep it away from him, but Zebo is proving just as much as a handful as he quickly gets Ireland back into English territory.
England win another penalty as Ireland collapse a maul. Ford chips it towards the corner for a lineout, but Bowe steals away Dylan Hartley's throw to stop England getting a chance at the opening try of the match.
England quickly force another lineout, but Hartley's throw once again ends up in Irish hands, and this time the hosts manage to get it well clear. Vunipola and Ford try to launch a quick counter for the visitors, but Payne halts the latter's run, before O'Connell forces the turnover.
REPLACEMENT! Tommy O'Donnell is getting an early run out as Sean O'Brien has picked up a knock.
England quickly get the ball across the middle as Youngs connects with Nowell following a lineout, but the visitors get penalised for not released once Irelnad make the tackle, so Sexton will look to add more points.
PENALTY! Ireland 9-3 England (Jonny Sexton)
Sexton makes it three from three to extend the home side's lead. Ireland haven't had quite the same urgency going forward as they did in the opening 10 minutes, but the fly-half is doing the job with the kicking duties so far.
MISSED PENALTY! Sexton is quickly called into action again, but this time he can't find the posts, pulling it well to the left after Goode knocked the ball on while Watson was offside.
Ireland force a lineout inside England territory as they continue to push for the opening try of the match. Nowell steals it for England though and boots it deep down field. England have been defending brilliantly so far, but they penalties have cost them.
England try to run the ball towards the Ireland try line as Goode and Marler move it out wide. It's chipped forward for Goode, but Carney manages to beat him to it and kicks it out for a lineout. Ireland have't come under too much pressure inside their own five-metre line so far, but they looked a little loose there.
HALF TIME: England 9-3 England
So at the interval, Sexton's three penalties leave Ireland six points clear, with only a drop goal from George Ford for the visitors so far. Both fly-halves missed a penalty, while try-scoring opportunities were pretty limited.
Ireland certainly had the better of the chances early on, with Rory Best coming close under the posts following a lineout. Since then, England have made the tackles and clear the danger superbly to limit the hosts' chances.
England didn't have too many chances in Irish territory, but they finished the half strongly, and exposed a few gaps along the Ireland line. Half time might not have come at the best time for England, as it felt like a score was coming for the visitors. They'll be hoping to continue that momentum after the break.
England have admitted via their Twitter account that they're pleased to still be in contention given Ireland's superior possession in the opening 40 minutes:
The players are starting to make their way back out for the second half.
RESTART! Ireland kick off the second half.
Sexton kicks it into English territory before chasing after it, but Goode manages to claim it before the fly-half can get hold of it, and brings it out from the back for the visitors.
Ford and Joseph move it out wide for Nowell, who tries t take off down the line before Bowe times his tackle well to halt the move. Both sides are obviously after a try early in the second half.
Murray is away as he picks up the ball from an Ireland lineout, and he makes it into English territory before chippin g it forward to avoid a couple of tackles, but he slips, allowing Goode to get it clear. Kearney regains possession for the hosts and goes for the drop goal from range, but it's just wide.
Ireland surge forward from a scrum, with Murray and O'Connell trying to muscle forward for the home side, and they force an error from England, with an offside giving Ireland a penalty.
PENALTY! Ireland 12-3 England (Jonny Sexton)
Ireland win a scrum in their own territory, but an error from the visitors hands the hosts a penalty, and they'll have the lineout at the half way line.
Zebo battles with Joseph to try to keep the ball alive for the host.s Murray manages to move it close to the try line as the hosts sense an opening for the first try of the afternoon, but Robshaw holds firm to keep them out.
TRY? Murray chips it over towards the corner, and Henshaw jumps up to pull it down in the corner, but the referee wants to look at the replay.
TRY! Ireland 17-3 England (Robbie Henshaw)
The centre keeps himself in bounds and grounds the ball perfectly, so it's an opening try for the home side.
CONVERSION! Ireland 19-3 England (Jonny Sexton)
Sexton makes it a 16-point advantage for the Irish as he curls the extra points in from the sideline. It will be his last contribution though, as it looks like he's tweaked his hamstring, so he's going off.
Billy Vunipola breaks from a try inside England territory, but he hasn't got any in support. He tries to kick and chase, but puts too much on it, forcing it behind.
PENALTY! Ireland 19-6 England (George Ford)
Ford makes amends for his missed kick in the first half as he boots the ball through the middle after Ireland are penalised for not releasing. The visitors would still need at least two scores to get back into the match from here.
History isn't on England's side if this tweet is anything to go by:
Jack Nowell dives to intercept a pass intended for Henshaw, but O'Connell quickly charges down a pass meant for Tom Youngs to get the ball back in Irish hands.
Henshaw flicks it out wide to veteran Cian Healy, who tries to use he power to batter his way forward, but he's eventually brought down. Ireland are still on the charge though, knowing that another try would surely end any hopes of a comeback for the visitors.
Ben Youngs eventually manages to boot it clear, only for Payne to attempt to run it back in, only for Goode to kick it away again. England have the lineout, allowing Kruis and Joseph to try to charge down field, but Healy is there to stop the latter.
PENALTY! Ireland 19-9 England (George Ford)
England certainly haven't given up as Healy gives away another penalty, which Ford boots over to make it three from four attempts with the boot this afternoon.
Here's the moment Robbie Henshaw
scored the only try of the match so far:© Getty Images
Both sides make a string of replacements as England try to force a comeback, which Ireland attempt to see out the win. Mako and Billy Vunipola are looking sharp for the visitors, while Robshaw and Billy Twelvetrees make their way forward as England continue to search for a try. They're certainly looking to more likely at he moment.
Easter and Nowell try to use brute force to get the ball across the line, but there's a knock on, giving the home side a scrum right on their on try line. They'll need to get this right, or they could leave England with a try-scoring opportunity.
Ireland survive the scrum, but Ford and Twelvetrees quickly look to set up another chance for Stuart Lancaster's side. Ireland are really having to defend to protect their 10-point advantage in the final stages of this match. There's a knock on though, so Ireland will have a scrum on the halfway line.
Ireland are just trying to keep possession now to make sure they see out the last couple of minutes. They force a lineout, and Ireland are forced into an untidy ruck as they try to keep the move alive, with Madigan eventually getting it to O'Donnell.
England will have one last chance as the get the ball from a lineout, with Billy Vunipola and brother Mako both moving it towards the try line.
NO TRY! England think they have a late consolation score as Jack Nowell squeezes over, but it was a forward pass to set him up.
FULL TIME: Ireland 19-9 England
Ireland survive a spirited fight from England to maintain their unbeaten start to the tournament. The result leaves Ireland as the only side still able to complete a Grand Slam this year, and it moves them to the top of the standings, leap-frogging England.
Robbie Henshaw's second-half try proved the turning point, and helped Ireland claim their first win over England since the 2011 championship.
So that's all from this match. It's a two-week break for the Six Nations now, but we'll have all the big injury news and team announcements between now and then. Until next time, thanks for joining me this afternoon. Goodbye!