The defending champions Ireland host England on Saturday afternoon at the Aviva Stadium in what promises to be an entertaining clash. England will be desperate to avenge their loss against Ireland at last year’s tournament, whilst Ireland will be hoping to continue their good form from a year ago. Both sides are filled with skilful, talented and determined players, so expect to see a passionate battle on the field. Below, we’ve picked out the battles that could decide this game.
Jonny May v Jacob Stockdale
Stockdale had a brilliant Six Nations tournament last year and he’ll be looking for another fast start this time around. England’s May will need to keep an eye over his shoulder because Stockdale’s electrifying pace could cause havoc on the wing.
Owen Farrell v Johnny Sexton
This match could be decided by the kicking game and we arguably have the two best kickers on show in this matchup. Farrell and Sexton can both handle the pressure and if the scores are tight, don’t rule out a drop-goal.
Manu Tuilagi v Garry Ringrose
England have received a huge boost by the return of Tuilagi, who will make his first Six Nations start since 2013. Fellow centre Ringrose will have a tough time up against the powerful Tuilagi, but it is a battle that will be fascinating to watch.
Jamie George v Rory Best
The battle of the hookers. Best captained Ireland to the Six Nations title last year and will be looking for a fairytale ending to his hugely successful career. He’ll be made to work by George, who has become a regular for England.
Ben Youngs v Conor Murray
The battle of the scrum-halves. Both players are hugely experienced and enjoy getting points on the board for their teams, so whoever comes out on top in this battle could end up with a victory.
Kyle Sinckler v Cian Healy
Sinckler has the hugely difficult task of trying to overcome the vastly experienced Healy. The Irishman is one of the best players in his position so should expect to win this battle, but Sinckler will want to use this as an opportunity to show what he is capable of.
Eliott Daly v Keith Earls
Both universal backs are standout players for their teams and could be the difference between winning and losing on Saturday. Daly is quick and tricky to handle whilst Earls, at the age of 31, has the experience and also the pace to hurt England.
Jack Nowell v Robbie Henshaw
Ireland’s Henshaw has been named at full-back so Nowell has a game on his hands. Both players have similar experience at international level so this could prove to be a close encounter.
Mako Vunipola v Tadhg Furlong
Both players will be looking to dominate the scrum. They’re both physically strong and powerful and could take each other’s game up a notch on Saturday.
Eddie Jones v Joe Schmidt
The battle of the bosses. Both men have shown their managerial quality in recent years and both will be keen to outfox one another. Jones has admitted that he has prepared his players for whatever Ireland throw at them, so this could be an intriguing battle.