Hartley on course to return for England against Ireland

Casey Dawson
March 13, 2018

The Irish are seeking just their third Grand Slam in their history when they take on Eddie Jones' side at Twickenham. Every good team goes through this period. "We are always going to go through this at some stage", England boss Jones said. Today we just wanted to go out there and show that we can defend how we want to. We've got to fix it because that's the sort of rugby we're playing.

England, hard bitten by their defeat in France and determined to maintain their home record combined with mounting pressure on coach Jones makes them a risky side to face.

"I don't think we should get too carried away or too melodramatic about where we are".

"I am sure on Saturday we will put in a fantastic performance".

Les Bleus, who had lost nine of their last 11 meetings against England in the Championship, prevailed through penalties by Maxime Machenaud (4) and Lionel Beauxis and a penalty try while their opponents scored two penalties and conversion by Owen Farrell, a penalty by Elliot Daly and a try by Jonny May.

England spent the fortnight after the Calcutta Cup rout at Murrayfield working on their breakdown, only for the same to issue to surface in Paris, a outcome of which was their attack never left first gear.

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"Our defense was remarkable", France coach Jacques Brunel told a news conference after his fourth game in charge.

"We've got our problems that we've got to sort out at global level. On both occasions, we were there".

Best, along with full-back Rob Kearney, is the only member of the current squad who featured in Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam triumph, and he also played in Ireland's last win at Twickenham in 2010. This was third title in five seasons under him. "If that leads to wins even better, but we've got to make sure that progress continues next week".

"Everyone knows the size of the challenge, they haven't lost there under Eddie Jones", said Best.

Jones places a lot of emphasis on his players training at the same intensity as they play, but this could now be affecting them. Scotland had its chances but wasn't as accurate, and butchered two tries, probably three.

Scrumhalf Conor Murray wriggled over early in the second half to widen Ireland's advantage but it was replacement Sean Cronin's try in the 68th minute that drew the biggest cheers as it secured the bonus point. With an very bad record away from home, the Scots' own championship bid was nearly inevitably squashed by an Irish side which owns the visitors in Dublin, where Scotland has won only once in 20 years. "At times when we were under pressure and they were trying to play chaotic rugby, we were able to get a breath back and get control through the spine of our team".

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