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Rupert Wyman 27th Feb 2009 - 12:37

England green with envy

England go into Saturday's Six Nations clash at Croke Park still looking for the best line-up and formula for success.

Martin Johnson must be envious of Declan Kidney's Irish side with their consistent selections and solid line-up.

The Three Lions on the other hand generally are always changing their starting XV and none more so than at the integral fly-half position.

For Saturday's match Toby Flood has been recalled to start, after recovering from injury, at the expense of Andy Goode. The Brive man can feel himself unlucky to be dropped as he exceeded expectations in Cardiff two weeks ago against Wales.

But Flood generally offers a more varied game than Goode and should help England play a more fluid style of rugby that has been rather illusive to date.

As a result of Flood's reinstatement in the last ten matches the man at number 10 has been changed seven times. No team can have that much success by constantly changing the man in probably the most important position.

Having said that some of the changes have been unavoidable due to injuries but some of the changes often seem like Johnson is too impatient and is striving for the perfect solution, without giving the players a chance to gel properly first.

Nevertheless it is Leicester man Flood that has been chosen for the Croke Park encounter and a good performance will probably see him nail down the fly-half position for at least the rest of the Six Nations.

As a result of England's inconsistent selection policy and Ireland's more solid look the home side are strong favourites at 1/3 to win the match.

A shock away win is the 9/4 outsider and the draw is available at 20/1.

England receive an eight-point start on the handicap with both sides 10/11 shots and the draw is priced at 14/1.

Ireland have won two out of two and look good value to make it three out of three against England. On the handicap line though England would be the preference as they were rather impressive in their defeat to Wales last time out and if it wasn't for ill-discipline and a high penalty count and the subsequent yellow cards a shock win could easily have occurred.

In the end England lost 23-15 to Wales so they should be able to get closer than that to Ireland as the Irish side's quality is inferior to Wales'.

Ireland's key strength in comparison with England is their consistent selection policy. Declan Kidney has named the same side for the third straight match meaning that unlike England the Irish are very familiar with one another and are used to playing with each other.

If England are to score a try at Croke Park a likely scorer is full-back Delon Armitage. The London Irish man is 20/1 to get the first try and 4/1 to get one at any point during the match. This looks incredible value in comparison with the rest of the back-line.

Wingers Mark Cueto and Paul Sackey are both at 12/1 first try, 9/4 anytime; centres Mike Tindall and Riki Flutey are both at 16/1 first try, 7/2 anytime; and even replacement Matthew Tait is at shorter prices than Armitage, as he is at the same prices as Tindall and Flutey.

For Ireland talisman Brian O'Driscoll is the obvious pick at 14/1 to get the first try and 5/2 to get one within the 80 minutes. Ospreys winger Tommy Bowe although shorter at 10/1 and 2/1 respectively could be a better bet though.

The patriotic Croke Park crowd, as is tradition, will no doubt create a passionate atmosphere especially for the visit of England. Ireland are seeking to gain revenge for thier defeat at Twickenham last year. While on England's minds will be the 43-13 hammering they received two years ago in Dublin.

The match kicks-off at 17:30 and is live on BBC One, our usual betlive service will be available from the kick-off offering you the very best in-running markets.

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