Sunday February 10, 2013
Day of destiny awaits England in Dublin
DUBLIN: England will try to consign a decade of Six Nations misery in Dublin to the history books when they face Ireland at Lansdowne Road today.
Not since a team led by Martin Johnson and coached by Clive Woodward thrashed Ireland 42-6 in 2003, also the year of their last Grand Slam and lone World Cup triumph, have England enjoyed Championship success in the Irish capital.
Much has changed since then, with Johnson resigning as England manager after a desperately poor 2011 World Cup campaign in New Zealand to be replaced last year by the lower-profile Stuart Lancaster.
Yet it was Lancaster’s England who beat the world champion All Blacks 38-21 in December and followed up with a 38-18 win over Scotland in their Six Nations opener at Twickenham last week.
However, their recent Dublin history explains why England retain a healthy respect for Ireland, who hammered Wales for much of their first round clash in Cardiff before the defending Grand Slam champions cut the visitors’ margin of victory to 30-22.
“What we can’t afford is to be caught out,” said Lancaster, ahead of a potential title-decider after Italy threw the Championship open by beating pre-tournament favourites France in Rome.
“You have got to hit the balance between being on the edge emotionally to match the Irish in those physical areas such as the breakdown and you lose sense of your game plan.” — AFP