Lewis Moody: Win over Ireland was fantastic but I fear Six Nations Grand Slam will be beyond England

Moody Views: Lancaster has a strong nucleus of a side although there are still positions that are not nailed down

It was attritional from start to finish, with not a try to be seen. To the average viewer it was probably pretty dull to watch, but to England and all their supporters what matters is simply that they won in Dublin. Ireland away is the type of game that you have to win if you have ambitions of succeeding in any championship or tournament. You need to win games away from home and how you do it doesn't matter, it just has to be done.

For the team it is an important milestone. England hadn't won a championship match in Ireland for 10 years, so getting that victory shows what a side they are and what levels they can reach. It is another win on the ladder, another successful step in the Stuart Lancaster project, but although England have been brilliant in this tournament – on top of that win against New Zealand – I still fear the Grand Slam might be beyond them this year.

For the entire team to maintain this level for all five games is extremely difficult, as has been proven many times over the years. It only takes one error by one person and a match can be lost. I do think they will win the Six Nations – and it will be hugely disappointing if they don't – and that would still be a huge step. This is not an easy tournament to win let alone sweep.

Owen Farrell had another good day with the boot in Dublin. Under Lancaster he has become one of the side's most consistent players – and at international level that level of consistency is really important for a coach to be able to rely on week in, week out. No he is not a Dan Carter, or a Jonny Wilkinson. He's an Owen Farrell, his own man.

He does his job, kicks his goals and keeps the scoreboard ticking over. It's that old line about beating what's in front of you and he has done that in this championship against Scotland and then Ireland. He has put the game plan into practice.

The number of players now being fed into the side and seizing the opportunity they have been given – people like Billy Twelvetrees, whose barnstorming debut has capped a remarkably quick rise to the top, Mako Vunipola, Joe Launchbury, Freddie Burns and more – is creating encouraging pressure for places in the England starting line-up.

Lancaster has the strong nucleus of a side to call upon, although there are still positions that are not nailed down. Hooker is one. Tom Youngs has done a fantastic job, Dylan Hartley is pushing hard, Launchbury has also done a good job in the second row, but Lancaster brought on Courtney Lawes early against Ireland for a different style of play. When Tom Croft is back to full fitness, how will that dynamic play out in the back row? And three into two doesn't go in the centres.

Players now have to perform in every game or there will be someone else with the quality to instantly replace them – take Alex Goode, Mike Brown and Ben Foden at 15 or Ben Youngs and Danny Care at nine. And it goes beyond the squad too. I would love to see the young Worcester Warriors openside flanker Matt Kvesic rewarded with a place in the 22 soon. Lancaster may prefer to leave Chris Robshaw well alone to grow as skipper, but Kvesic's time will come one day.

These are good dilemmas to have. This is all reflecting well on Lancaster who is overseeing victories and an encouraging level of performance. The players have bought into what he wants and have a clear understanding of what is required of them. That is very important.

He has also gathered a good set of coaches around him. Guys like Andy Farrell don't come round very often, and to have someone of his calibre who is so respected is vital. Then add the likes of Mike Catt – his experience over the years is bolstering an already very good side. Remember, too, that in coaching terms this is a young staff, one that will learn and develop too.

It will be hard for England to maintain the level of success they are currently achieving. I don't wish bad things upon them but there will be blips, that's the nature of sport and at international level it is so tough for players to maintain that focus throughout long campaigns like the Six Nations. How they react to setbacks – such as following the Australia defeat with victory over the All Blacks in the autumn – will be as important as building on victories like that which they dug out in Dublin.

Now for France. Any team that plays England raises their game – that's history for you. The lack of confidence that France have at the moment will not do them any favours, but they do have quality players in that side. It has been a complete surprise how badly they have performed. The squad is full of players who have underperformed – losing to Italy was frankly unbelievable.

The French forwards will be ready for a battle royal – we could see a couple of early scuffles just like the old days – and whoever wins the early exchanges will have that key foothold in the game. I see England winning by 10 or 12 points, beating Italy and so they will go to Wales with the Grand Slam at stake.

I have been part of England teams in the past that have lost Grand Slams in that last game. It is a tough competition; teams become desperate to stop England winning that Slam. It all has the makings of coming down to an afternoon in Cardiff – and what a game that will be.

Lewis Moody is a TAG Heuer ambassador

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform