Four down, one to go: England have already won the Six Nations with a 100% record and need just one more win to seize the Grand Slam and break a world record. England have moved level with New Zealand for the most consecutive wins of all-time and all they need to do is beat Ireland in their final Six Nations match to make the record their own.
It is easier said than done. Ireland, after all, are the team that put an end to New Zealand’s 16-game winning run last year when they beat the All Blacks in Chicago. But they have not been great in this Six Nations: Ireland have played four, won two and lost two. Last time out they lost 22-9 to Wales, and they also lost 27-22 to Scotland. England have already beaten both of those teams and will go into the match full of confidence.
The bookmakers certainly think they can do it. There has been a flurry of betting action during the tournament as new and established betting sites compete for business by offer different odds and sign up bonuses. You should check an independent site like Sportsbookreview.com before choosing who to go with, as several are not reputable and may withhold or delay payments. So go with someone trusted by SBR. Bodog has odds on most major markets, and it has a strong rating, so this would be the type of bookmaker to go for. Betting odds show that England are 9/13 favourites to win their game in Ireland and those look like very attractive odds. In their only other home game, Ireland beat France, but that loss to Wales will have damaged their confidence, and England are a far better team than France anyway.
England have travelled well in their Six Nations campaign so far, beating Wales on the road, and they really should win this one. A lot of the action is going on Ireland at 6/4, but England have won 16 in a row and it seems like folly to bet against them now.
Last year the two teams met at Twickenham and England ran out 21-10 victors on their way to claiming the Grand Slam. They have confidence and momentum and a psychological edge based on recent head to heads. Billy Vunipola, who returned from injury to help inspire England to that thumping win over Scotland, says England have the necessary mental strength – something they have displayed time and time again over the past 18 months – to make history in Dublin and will not buckle under the weight of expectation. “I would probably say it is more mental that physical because we have never been in this position before when we can push further on,” he said.
“It’s a big occasion. It is the day after St Patrick’s Day, it is going to be very, very emotional so we are going to have to turn up with the right mindset to try to negate everything that they are going to bring on the mental side of things and try to impose the game plan that we have.
“Do we want to make the next step or start again from the bottom? We’ve come a long way. I think Eddie and his coaching staff have pushed us massively to a goal that everyone laughed off at the end of the World Cup but now it’s a realistic goal.”
It will be a tall order: a hostile stadium filled by a patriotic Irish crowd around St Patrick’s Day, facing probably the second best team in the tournament, who ended New Zealand’s run at the same hurdle. But the England team is full of winners, full of mental strength and character and desire, and their strength off the bench could once again be the deciding factor.