Saturday 2nd February 2019

Event of the Day: Ireland versus England

Our event of the day is the Six Nations fixture between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Ireland come into this tournament as the defending champions, having won the Grand Slam last year. Ireland are the team to beat right now, having had a fantastic 2018. England will look to recover from a rough year, having only won six games in 2018. Both teams are taking risks with their line-ups as they look for success. Be sure you don’t miss today’s match. Ireland are clearly the team to beat in the tournament. They dominated the 2018 Six Nations, taking home the Grand Slam, conceding less than 100 points and making a bold statement about the state of Irish rugby. It was a 24-15 victory over England at Twickenham that secured the top honours for Ireland. They have won twelve straight at the Aviva Stadium and have won 18 of their last 19 matches. Furthermore, under coach Joe Schmidt, who has led them through five Six Nations, they are yet to lose at home. Meanwhile, England finished 5th in last year’s tournament, their worst finish in 31 years. Their wins against Wales and Italy represented a third of their wins for the calendar year. They are without a win in Dublin since 2013 and have lost six of their last seven in the Irish capital.

However, they are not without confidence. Jack Nowell has said that he has been given a “golden ticket” by coach Eddie Jones to get involved across the field this evening. The 5”11, 216lbs Cornwall native, who plays for Premiership-leading Exeter, is a winger by choice but can play full-back and outside centre as well. He is an agile, aggressive player and giving him the freedom to play across the pitch might be the edge England needs. If England are to win tonight, they will need to dominate in the air and that is a realm that starting full-back Elliot Daly is yet to fully master. Daly has started the last seven Tests for England at full-back but he is yet to truly excel at the position and aerial dominance is a particular weakness for him. Ireland will also take a risk at full-back, moving Robbie Henshaw from centre to fill the 15 shirt. Henshaw last started a game at full-back for Connacht in 2016. Both sides may utilise kicking to exploit the potential weaknesses at this position. Ben Te’o’s injury will mean that Manu Tuilagi will start for England, his first Six Nations start in six years. There will be a battle in the forwards as Billy Vunipola will try to contain Ireland’s number 8, CJ Stander. Stander is a bruising ball-carrier who always gets go forward with his 6”1, 251lbs frame. If England don’t want to be swept aside, Stander has to be suppressed. With both sides holding nothing back, this is going to be a match to remember.

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the NBA, where the Golden State Warriors host the Los Angeles Lakers at the Oracle Arena. The Warriors top the Western Conference, though not by much. They hold a half-game lead over the Nuggets and the rest of the top 5 are all in good form. The Warriors had an 11-game win streak snapped on Thursday night in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Meanwhile, the Lakers are looking to stay in the fight for playoff contention. They sit in 9th, one game back from the 8th place LA Clippers. The in-state rivalry between these two teams always makes for exciting basketball so be sure to catch tonight’s game. In football, the United States play a friendly against Costa Rica at the Avaya Stadium in San Jose. On the European Tour, the Saudi International continues at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club. In the NHL, the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Scotiabank Arena. In WTA tennis, the Thailand Open continues at Hua Hin.

Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!

Fixture

Photos by Six Nations Rugby

 

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