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Six Nations 2024: How did England beat 'the best team in the world' Ireland?

Six Nations 2024: How did England beat 'the best team in the world' Ireland?

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Experienced fly-half George Ford will lead England's attack against his Irish counterpart Jack Crawley

Guinness Six Nations: England v Ireland

place: Twickenham Stadium, London date: Saturday 9 March Starting: 16:45 GMT

coverage: Listen to BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Sounds and BBC Radio Ulster; Live text updates, reporting, reactions and highlights on the BBC Sport website and app

After three emphatic wins, Ireland arrive at Twickenham on Saturday favorites to beat England.

Andy Farrell's side can retain their title with a bonus-point win and maintain their bid to become the first team in Six Nations history to win back-to-back Grand Slam tournaments.

England return to their base in London striving for greater cohesion in defense and attack after a disappointing defeat to Scotland.

Twickenham expects Steve Borthwick's men to be competitive to say the least, but how can they beat a team that has won 11 Six Nations matches in a row?

Feyi-Waboso X Factor?

England are yet to light the touch sheet in this Six Nations tournament, which started with victories over Italy and Wales before defeat in Edinburgh ended their unbeaten start.

England have rejected the claim, and giving Emmanuel Faye-Waboso the first start on the wing may be indicative of a more flexible plan to attack Ireland.

The 21-year-old impressed off the bench against Scotland and opened his international account with an eye-catching effort that came close to being a collapse.

Coach Borthwick is keen for more finesse from his exciting young winger.

“After I told him he was starting, he was very appreciative and thanked me several times,” Borthwick said. “Then he asked me what do you want from me?”

“I told him: ‘Find the ball and get it in your hands.’ There are some nuances, but the message was: ‘I want you to get the ball in your hands as many times as possible.'”

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Feyi-Waboso is one of three changes made to the squad, with Alex Mitchell's return from injury to reclaim the No.9 shirt and the selection of George Martin in the second row a sign of the fitness England will need.

Martin's ball-carrying strength will provide England with the opportunity to punch holes in the green wall and cross the gain line to make way for the likes of Feyi-Waboso.

Ireland's narrow World Cup quarter-final defeat to New Zealand ended a 17-match winning streak, but it appears to have been quickly erased from memory.

Borthwick is not the only one who believes Ireland are a better team at their current level than world champions South Africa, who are officially ranked first.

“Let's be clear about Ireland, now we can all agree they are the best team in the world,” Borthwick said.

Twickenham is ready for a revolution, so start well

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Borthwick said that the performance against Scotland was the first time since he took charge of England that he saw “the shirt weighing heavy” on his players.

What worries Borthwick is how this pressure could increase.

It's rare for England to play at home without being favourites. And although the odds appear to be in the visitors' favour, former Ireland winger Shane Horgan says Twickenham could “revolt” if the game starts to slip away from England.

“We expect England to win every game,” Horgan told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“I don't think it's good for the England team to put themselves in the position of underdogs because that's when the pressure is on.

“Twickenham will be ready for a revolution this weekend and that is the big risk because we have seen the damage it can do to the England national team.

“If things go well, they will support her, but if things start going wrong early or at any stage, there can be a lot of anger and resentment.”

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But England captain Jimmy George believes playing at Twickenham will motivate his team.

“We believe we will win,” he said. “We don’t want anyone or any competitor to come to Twickenham and have an easy trip.

“We respect them. I can't stress enough how much respect we have for Andy Farrell and Peter O'Mahony's team. They have great players in all areas.

“But this is England. This is Twickenham. This is our home. And we will defend our country, as any Englishman would.”

“The number of fouls in England should be close to zero.”

England defied Ireland in their encounter in Dublin last season thanks to their discipline in defense and a low number of fouls, before Freddie Steward's controversial red card tipped the momentum in the home side's favor with a major championship handed to them in time.

Former England halfback Matt Dawson says the men in white can take inspiration from their performance in Dublin.

“I would like to see England come out of the dressing room with a very focused, icy look and do something on the pitch that upsets Ireland,” Dawson told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Like they did last year in the Aviva where Ireland started to doubt themselves for 10 to 15 minutes.

“Steward was sent off after that, but by their own admission, Ireland were disjointed and didn't play their best because they were a bit sloppy.

“England have to get to that point very quickly. If they want to have any chance, their foul count has to be closer to zero.

“You can apply that to any aspect of the game, whether it's the set-piece, the scrimmage or their discipline – it should be next to zero.

He added: “This Irish team thrives not only on set-pieces, but also on broken chances, and England can't give them that.”

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