Six Nations Betting: Ireland vs England Tips and Analysis
- Ireland HT/England FT – 13/1 with 888Sport
- Robbie Henshaw first tryscorer – 18/1 with Betfair
- Chris Ashton last tryscorer – 18/1 with Bet365
We’re simply being spoilt. Just when you think it can’t get better than Ireland versus the all-conquering All Blacks in the autumn, the 2019 Six Nations serves up this humdinger on the opening weekend.
England head to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the third clash of the weekend, for a monumental test that could define each side’s fortunes for the remainder of the tournament – and year, with the 2019 Rugby World Cup on the horizon.
The world No.2 side, Ireland, have all the momentum. They’re at home, are unbeaten in six, have just taken the scalp of the world champions New Zealand, winning 16-9 in Dublin, and are heavy favourites to win the tournament, if not the Grand Slam.
Yet England are fresh, focused and only lost to the same All Blacks side by one point in November. Head coach Eddie Jones is relishing the underdog tag.
"It is well documented no-one thinks we can win," Jones said this week.
"But I can tell you everyone inside our camp believes we can win. We are hugely looking forward to the weekend."
Ireland vs England: Head-to-Head
Jones might be champing at the bit to unleash his beefed up pack on the Irish to avenge last season’s 24-15 defeat at Twickenham, but England’s recent away record in Dublin doesn’t make for pretty reading for rugby betting fans thinking of backing the visitors.
England have lost six of their last seven Six Nations visits, with a 12-6 victory in 2013 their most recent success.
Yet it’s always nail-bitingly close. Ireland have won by just four, six and six points in their last three respective matches with England at the Aviva Stadium. To continue that trend, an Ireland win by 6-10 points is best priced at 9/2 with Betway.
Whoever wins will claim the relatively unheard of Millennium Trophy, a prize that’s shaped like a horned Viking helmet and gone to the victors since 1988 (England have won it 18 times to Ireland’s 13).
But more significantly, a win would provide a tremendous surge of confidence and momentum for the victors, and set each side up for a genuine assault on a Six Nations and World Cup double.
Ireland vs England Team News
The headline news revolves around the centres. The perennially-injured Manu Tuilagi returns to England’s midfield, making his first Six Nations start since 2013.
Meanwhile Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has sprung a surprise, deploying Robbie Henshaw at fullback instead of his favoured position at centre, given usual starter Rob Kearney’s lack of full fitness and backup Jordan Larmour offering less of an aerial threat.
It’s a bold move, which could turn into a typically shrewd one from Ireland’s Kiwi coach. England’s players and fans alike will keenly recall Henshaw – then wearing the No.12 jersey – out jumping England’s fullback Alex Goode to score the decisive try in Dublin in 2015.
The Leinsterman has only scored four tries in 37 caps but at fullback he will have more freedom to chase Murray’s high kicks and put England’s back three under pressure. That makes Henshaw at 4/1 with Coral to score anytime and 18/1 with Betfair to score first good options.
Elsewhere, Ireland’s – and arguably the world’s – first choice halfback partnership of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton is restored, one of only two changes from the starting line-up that beat New Zealand in November.
However, Sexton hasn’t played since the end of December and there’s a relative lack of Six Nations pedigree on Ireland’s bench that could prove pivotal in the final stages when England’s George Ford, Chris Ashton and Courtney Lawes all enter the fray.
England are also able to restore influential brothers Mako (51 caps) and Billy Vunipola (36 caps) to their powerful pack for the first time this season and with Tuilagi punching holes in Ireland’s midfield, the match is bound to open up in the second half.
Ireland vs England Best Odds
The Millennium Trophy is Ireland’s to lose and the bookies agree, pricing them at 1/3 (Bet365) to kickstart the defence of their Grand Slam with a win. Paddy Power have England best priced at a rather more tempting 3/1.
The most likely outcome is a narrow Ireland win, but the margins, as ever in tier one test rugby, are on a knife edge. There’s value to be had in backing England to lead at half-time and Ireland to clinch it by full-time at 13/2 with Betfair.
Or if you believe England’s bench will prove the difference you can flip that and back Ireland HT/England FT at 13/1 with 888 Sport, then double down on a famous away win by backing serial-poacher Ashton as the last tryscorer, at 18/1 with Bet365.
Whatever happens, there are mouthwatering match ups to savour all over the park, made all the spicier given the bulk of both sides were united as teammates for the British and Irish Lions less than two years ago.
Then Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell played side-by-side in dismantling a peerless All Blacks in New Zealand.
But this Saturday they’ll go head-to-head in the cauldron of Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. Whoever keeps the cooler head will surely take the spoils.
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