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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

'On the evidence we've seen so far you would have to back England'

Another pundit is leaning towards Stuart Lancaster’s men in the battle at the Aviva.

Alan Quinlan thinks England are well-equipped to win at the Aviva.
Alan Quinlan thinks England are well-equipped to win at the Aviva.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A LOT OF English pundits have come out in the last few days tipping England to leave the Aviva Stadium with a victory on Sunday week and after two dominant displays from Stuart Lancaster’s men in-a-row some Irish analysts are starting to agree.

Alan Quinlan spoke to The42 about the potential championship decider and admits that the visitors are the favourites going into the game – and they’ve earned the tag.

“On the evidence we’ve seen so far you would have to back England,” Quinlan said.

“Ireland haven’t scored many tries so far and have struggled to break down teams. I don’t think it is definite because Ireland are at home but it will be a very tough task.”

Ireland didn’t create a single line break against France and were also held without a try. Despite that, Quinlan thinks that the relatively new centre combination of Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne is showing signs of progression.

“I’ve no doubt they are the right partnership,” Quinlan said.

“They are getting better with every game. I think if we get quicker ball and get the two lads involved earlier they can create a bit more.”

Unlike Ireland, the English have feasted on tries in the opening two rounds with centre Jonathan Joseph leading the championship with three five-pointers. The Bath contingent likely wouldn’t all be in the team had England not experienced so many injuries before the championship but when asked what impressed him most about the Red Rose during their first two games, Quinlan acknowledges the contribution they’ve all made.

Source: RBS 6 Nations/YouTube

“Their attack, definitely,” Quinlan said.

“If everyone was fit at the start of the Six Nations you definitely wouldn’t have picked that backline but Ford, Watson and Joseph have all been excellent. Ford controls the team so well and Joseph has been fantastic so far.”

While Stuart Lancaster’s men have excelled behind the scrum, their back row have helped give them a great platform. Billy Vunipola has bulldozed around the pitch as usual, James Haskell is in the form of his career and captain Chris Robshaw is putting up outrageous tackle numbers, almost hitting 20 in each of the first two games.

Quinlan thinks Robshaw is one of the more underrated flankers in the tournament.

“Robshaw was obviously feeling a bit of pressure before the tournament with everyone touting Steffon Armitage as the best English flanker but he has been so consistent,” Quinlan said.

“He always makes a huge amount of tackles and I think since he might not have the skill of other flankers or because he isn’t flamboyant, he doesn’t get that much attention.”

The battle at the breakdown will be even tougher for Ireland with the absence of Jamie Heaslip, who was ruled out after breaking two vertebrae in his back after receiving a knee from Pascal Pape.

Shane Horgan was adamant on RTE that Pape should have been sent off and Quinlan agrees with his former Ireland colleague.

“I’m in no position to be shouting about discipline but I think it was a straight red card, no doubt,” Quinlan said.

“I wouldn’t like to see him banned for a really long time but I do think he should be gone for a couple of weeks because a knee can do a lot of damage.”

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