Ireland vs England: Wilkinson and O’Gara to play instrumental roles
Ireland and England meet in Dublin on Saturday for what could be a defining match in their World Cup bids.
It may be being classed as a World Cup warm-up but this is as important, if not more so, than the group games with the so called lesser teams in New Zealand.
Neither side will want to enter the World Cup on the back of a defeat and Ireland, without a win in their three warm-up games, will be desperate for the victory.
Martin Johnson has hinted throughout the summer that this is the game in which he expects to see the bulk of his first XV lay down a World Cup marker, and there is a lot of pressure on both the players and the manager on Saturday – England are 6/5 to win.
England have won just once in their last six visits to Dublin, and they were dominated in Dublin in March when Ireland ruined their hopes of a Grand Slam.
Ireland are 8/11 to repeat that win on Saturday and the home advantage is a huge benefit to Declan Kidney’s side.
Brian O’Driscoll may not be featuring, but it’s a strong looking Irish line-up that has the potential to score tries, although all eyes will be on the battle between Ronan O’Gara and Jonny Wilkinson.
Both teams look evenly matched on paper and this looks likely to come down to the penalty count.
Ireland have conceded 18 penalties in their two matches with France, seven of which were converted into three points.
England conceded 23 penalties in their two matches with Wales, four of which were converted into three points.
Ireland need to take advantage of England’s penalty count and with O’Gara on the pitch, they can do just that, which is why the 9/2 for Ireland to win by 1-5 points looks the pick of the betting.