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friendly | International Rugby Union
Aug 19, 2023 at 5.30pm UK
Aki (9'), Ringrose (39'), Lowe (55'), Hansen (65'), Earls (73')
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Preview: Ireland vs. England - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's friendly clash between Ireland and England, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

As the 2023 Rugby World Cup edges closer, Ireland and England will continue their preparations for the grand spectacle when they meet at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

The hosts come into this match following a 33-17 win over the Italians at this venue at the start of the month, while the visitors managed a narrow win over the Dragons at Twickenham last weekend.

Match preview

Ireland's Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty to become the highest points scorer in Six Nations history on March 18, 2023© Reuters

Since losing to France in the 2022 Six Nations, Ireland have been formidable have maintained a perfect record over the last year and a half, winning each of their last 12 matches, including victories over the world champions, the Springboks and the Wallabies.

Andy Farrell's side were incredible in the Six Nations earlier this year and claimed the title with five wins in five matches while securing 27 points and ending the competition seven points clear of outgoing champions France.

Arguably, their best performance over their last 18 months came against Les Bleus in the Six Nations, where they won 32-19 and dictated play for large parts while only allowing their opponents a solitary drop goal in the second half.

Not only are Ireland producing good results, but they are also one of the most settled sides in terms of their starting lineup, and with that result over France earlier in the year, they will be full of confidence heading into the World Cup next month.

The hosts played a warm-up match earlier this month against Italy and once again showed their dominance over the Six Nations wooden spoon recipients, as they eased to victory at this venue, and they are heavily fancied to secure another win in this one.

England's Elliot Daly celebrates after Maro Itoje scores a try on August 12, 2023© Reuters

Meanwhile, England took on Wales last week and were less than five minutes away from being handed back-to-back defeats by the Dragons after they slumped to a 20-9 defeat at the Principality Stadium the previous week.

England did look much better in the first half at Twickenham with returning skipper Owen Farrell pulling the strings at flyhalf, but after he was shown a red card early in the second half, the Welsh came back firing and took a 17-16 lead into the closing stages of the match.

While a penalty from George Ford ultimately secured the win for the English, they are still clearly a long way from their best, and if they had lost that match, there would certainly be a lot more alarm bells ringing in the camp.

At this year's Six Nations, England lost the Calcutta Cup in the opening match against Scotland and went on to finish in fourth place in the competition, dropping a spot from last season while the Scots went up a place.

England have failed to beat Ireland in their last three attempts, including in March this year when the Irish eased past them 29-16 at this venue, and Steve Borthwick's men are currently 7/1 outsiders in this one, according to the most recent bookmaker odds.

Ireland form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

England form (all competitions):

  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W

Team News

The Ireland head coach has announced a strong side for Saturday's clash that features as many as 11 players that started in their Six Nations triumph over England back in March.

Cian Prendergast will make his debut at number eight with Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose in the centre partnership, while Ross Byrne will start at flyhalf.

With regular skipper Johnny Sexton suspended for the warm-up matches, James Ryan will fill in as captain, and Tadhg Beirne will join him in the heart of the second row.

The big news in the lead-up to the match from an England perspective was the potential inclusion of Farrell after his red card in the last match. However, after appealing the decision, Borthwick announced on Thursday that the skipper had been dropped for this encounter.

Ford will replace Farrell at flyhalf as one of six changes to the side that beat Wales last week, with Ben Youngs earning the nod alongside him in the scrum-half position.

Ireland starting lineup: 15. Hugo Keenan, 14. Mack Hansen, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. James Lowe, 10. Ross Byrne, 9. Jamison Gibson-Park, 8. Cian Prendergast, 7. Josh van der Flier, 6. Peter O'Mahony, 5. James Ryan (c), 4. Tadhg Beirne, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 2. Dan Sheehan, 1. Andrew Porter

Replacements: 16. Rob Herring, 17. Jeremy Loughman, 18. Finlay Bealham, 19. Joe McCarthy, 20. Caelan Doris, 21. Conor Murray, 22. Jack Crowley. 23. Keith Earls

England starting lineup: 15. Freddie Steward, 14. Anthony Watson, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. Manu Tuilagi, 11. Elliot Daly, 10. George Ford, 9. Ben Youngs, 8. Billy Vunipola, 7. Ben Earl, 6. Courtney Lawes (c), 5. David Ribbans, 4. Maro Itoje, 3. Will Stuart, 2. Jamie George, 1. Ellis Genge

Replacements: 16. Theo Dan, 17. Joe Marler, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Ollie Chessum, 20. Jack Willis, 21. Danny Care, 22. Marcus Smith, 23. Ollie Lawrence

Head To Head

In the history of their encounters, these two teams have engaged in a collective of 140 Test matches. Out of these, England emerged victorious in 80 instances, while Ireland secured triumph in 52, and the remaining 8 concluded in a draw.

SM words green background

We say: Ireland 34-17 England

Ireland have been a force over the last 18 months and have beaten this opponent by more than 13 points in each of the last three encounters. Without Farrell, England's task will be that much more difficult, and we feel they may suffer a fairly hefty defeat in this one.

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Owen Farrell pictured during England training in August 2023
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