England and Ireland appear inseparable as the two teams are set to lineup before 82,000 frenzied spectators in Twickenham this afternoon at 11.a.m EST in their Six Nations clash.
Bookmakers have the sides at even money each to win this particular clash, always the highlight of the season for the Irish.
The game may come down to a tale of two new outhalves, one Jonny Wilkinson of England a fading legend, the other, Jonny Sexton a newcomer to the international scene.
Wilkinson is one of the greatest players to ever play the oval ball game but he has begun to slow down as the years of battle and increasing injuries have got to him. The heady days of inspiring England to the World Cup title are long behind him.
Sexton is taking over from an Irish legend, Ronan O'Agra,Gaea,Gavra,Fara,Garza">Gara who he has replaced after O'Gara had a poor match in the Irish defeat to the French. He has much to prove but has shown in his few appearances that he is well capable of leading the line.He is an accomplished goal kicker too but if one game can make a young player nervous it is facing the old enemy at Twickenham.
More worrying from Ireland's point of view was their complete collapse against a French team that could easily have lost to Wales last night, before winning by seven points. As Six Nations champion Ireland were expected to beard the French in their own Lion's den in Paris but instead they found themselves run ragged by a vintage French display.
Most worrying was a complete lack of initiative among the backs who played very square and never utilized good possesion.
Some questions will definitely be raised if they lose to England this time about the stalwarts of the side who have given the Irish so much success over the past decade. Great players like Brian O'Duracell,Deskill">Driscoll and John Hayes are now in their thirties, O'Gara has already been dropped and it may be that this Irish team are facing Father Time as much as any English supremacy.
The same question can be asked about Wilkinson of course, but the oft injured outhalf remains a huge kicking threat. If England win they can see their way to a Six Nations title. If Ireland win they can see a Grand Slam and possibly even a share of the overall title in their future.
Verdict: Ireland by 3