On Sunday afternoon England will confront Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin and that nagging question will finally be answered: can the power of the English prevail over Ireland's efficiency?
Both sides are level on four points after winning their first two matches of the tournament but England sit at the summit of the table with a superior points difference. However, only one side will leave the Aviva with their Grand Slam aspirations intact.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has made two changes to the side that brushed aside Italy at Twickenham, ahead of their trip across the Irish Sea.
Mike Brown has failed to recover from the concussion he suffered in Italy win so Saracen’s Alex Goode takes over at full back, while Exeter Chief’s Jack Nowell replaces Jonny May on the wing.
Nowell featured in all five of England’s 2014 Six Nations matches but injury kept him out of England’s summer tour and autumn series. Jonny May has been dropped from the squad after lackluster performances against Wales and Italy.
Bath’s Henry Thomas starts on the bench in the absence of the injured Kieran Brookes, who is still recovering from a hip flexor strain.
England have not lost to the Irish since their first visit to the Aviva Stadium back in March 2011, when Ireland decimated English Grand Slam hopes with a comprehensive 24-8 victory.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has made just one injury-enforced change to the team battled past France. Jordi Murphy returns to the back row to replace his Leinster teammate Jamie Heaslip.
Heaslip has fractured three vertebrae in his back, an injury inflicted by the knee of Pascal Pape, although he may return in time to face Wales on March 14.
Munster's Tommy O’Donnell starts on the bench after recovering from a concussion alongside Eoin Reddan, who replaces Isaac Boss as reserve scrum half.
The reigning champions are slight favorites for this match, which is widely regarded as the 2015 Six Nations decider, and if they overcome the English and secure their tenth successive Test-match victory, they will equal their all-time win record. Ireland have not been beaten since losing 13-10 at Twickenham in February 2014.
KICK-OFF: Sunday, 15.00
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
England 13 Ireland 10, Six Nations, February 2014
Ireland 6 England 12, Six Nations, February 2013
England 30 Ireland 9, Six Nations, March 2012
Ireland have completed the most passes in this year’s tournament (308).
In each of their last four games against England, Ireland have failed to score more than ten points and managed just one try.
England have scored eight tries in this year’s competition, more than twice as many as any other side.
After England's first two matches, Chris Robshaw has made the most tackles (45) and missed just one.
Ireland to win: 1.83
England to win: 2.05
TV: Live on BBC 1 at 15.00
Ireland: R Kearney, T Bowe, J Payne, R Henshaw, S Zebo, J Sexton, C Murray, J McGrath, R Best, M Ross, D Toner, P O'Connell (capt), P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Murphy
Replacements: S Cronin, C Healy, M Moore, I Henderson, T O'Donnell, E Reddan, I Madigan, F Jones
England: Alex Goode, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell, Jack Nowell, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Dave Attwood, George Kruis, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw (capt), Billy Vunipola
Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Henry Thomas, Nick Easter, Tom Croft, Richard Wigglesworth, Danny Cipriani, Billy TwelvetreesReuse content