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Make no mistake; this was no warm-up game. Well, technically it was, but it was ultimately one hell of a Test match. It had everything; a ferocious battle at the scrummage, car crash collisions all over the park and one or two moments of brilliance providing that creative spark we all wantedto see.
Ireland 9 England 20: Samoan-born centre has suddenly become England's bright hope for World Cup after lighting up the midfield with pace, power and another try
Martin Johnson has named a new-look midfield of Jonny Wilkinson, Mike Tindall and Manu Tuilagi for England's final World Cup warm-up international against Ireland on Saturday.
England flanker James Haskell has been passed fit for selection against Ireland on Saturday.
At least Martin Johnson is in good company. Neither South Africa, winners of the World Cup in 2007, nor England, the runners-up four years ago, look in the best possible shape as they count down the days to the 2011 tournament.
A defiant Martin Johnson insists England have not become a poor side overnight following their disappointing 19-9 World Cup warm-up defeat to Wales in Cardiff.
There was an amusing moment yesterday when Martin Johnson, the England manager, was heard to ask: "Who is to say what our strongest team might be?" In an instant, he had answered his own question. "I guess we are," he replied to himself, referring to the back-room group he has led for almost three and a half years. It was an illuminating episode. Johnson has made 13 changes to his starting line-up for tomorrow's meeting with Wales in Cardiff and ended up with a combination every bit as well equipped as the one that prevailed over the same opposition at Twickenham six days ago.
England captain Lewis Moody will be given every chance to prove his fitness for the Rugby World Cup after suffering a mild ligament strain in his right knee.
Saracens 35 Gloucester 12
Sale 24 Exeter 30
Wasps prop free to face Bath at Twickenham but Wales No 8 still subject of club inquiry after fracas
Wasps have suspended their international forwards Andy Powell and Tim Payne.
This was always likely to be more primitive than post-modern, more grunt than grace. This was, after all, England v France, not the one-sided affair at Twickenham two weeks earlier that yielded eight tries against a porous Italy defence.
England 17 France 9: Full-back helps young England stay on course for first Grand Slam in eight years
England 17 France 9
Martin Johnson has demanded England prey on France's fragility on the road by turning Twickenham into a bearpit for tomorrow's pivotal RBS 6 Nations showdown.