England vs. Ireland: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and Preview

Dan Brett@@DanBrett90Contributor IIIFebruary 22, 2014

England will be hoping to toast a top-of-the-table position after their match with Ireland.
England will be hoping to toast a top-of-the-table position after their match with Ireland.David Rogers/Getty Images

As England prepare to take on Six Nations table-toppers Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday, Stuart Lancaster's side will be buoyed by Wales' 27-6 win against France.

The result leaves England within reach of closing the gap on top spot, currently occupied by Ireland thanks to France's first defeat of the campaign.

With just 27 points separating England and Ireland, a big home win would see Lancaster's men leapfrog France, Wales and their Twickenham counterparts and restore advantage with two games to play.

Here's how both sides faired in their last respective outings:

Date: Saturday, Feb. 22.

Time: 4 p.m. GMT/11 a.m. ET

Venue: Twickenham, London, England.

Viewing Info: BBC One

Stream: BBC Sport website

Expectations Run High:

Both sides will be hoping rising stars will pick up the points at Twickenham.
Both sides will be hoping rising stars will pick up the points at Twickenham.David Rogers/Getty Images

If there are two teams that need to build on their last-round results, it's England and Ireland.

The visitors posted a 26-3 win against Wales last time out, with Jonathan Sexton providing one conversion and four penalties as his side eased to victory in Dublin.

A 13-point half-time lead saw Josef Schmidt's outfit quickest out of the starting blocks, after Sexton had hit two penalties in 16 minutes to take home advantage.

Leigh Halfpenny hit a consolation for Wales, but his side could not halt a rampant Ireland who won the battle upfront to dent the reigning champions.

Rugby Union broadcaster George Hook tweeted his prediction, should Ireland hold firm once again from the breakdown:

England enjoyed similar dominance against Scotland at Murrayfield; posting a 20-0 victory and reducing their opponents to little more than a glimmer of hope on a rain-soaked pitch.

Owen Farrell's all-round contribution was integral, adding seven points with the boot as Luther Burrell and man-of-the-match Mike Brown crossed the line.

The side will be without tighthead prop Dan Cole, who misses out due to injury per BBC Sport, with David Wilson named as his replacement. No changes for Ireland, though, who stick with the same starting XV.

Key Players to Watch:

England: Owen Farrell

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Owen Farrell of England in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Scotland and England at Murrayfield Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

When the two sides met at the Aviva Stadium last February, the visitors' 12-6 win was gleaned solely because of Farrell's clinical finishing from penalties.

Four were scored on that occasion, which sent England to the top of the table following last year's RBS Six Nations contest.

England coach Lancaster will be looking to his 22-year-old fly-half to pick up crucial points once again if his side are to equal the top three's four-point benchmark.

Farrell has never lost a competitive match against Ireland, and after 19 appearances with the national side, he'll be looking to make sure his unbeaten run continues against Brian O'Driscoll and Co.

Ireland: Jonathan Sexton

DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Jonathan Sexton (C) of Ireland kicks for touch during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 8, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

The visitors' own fly-half will be looking to build on his points haul from last weekend and is no stranger to the taste of victory at Twickenham.

He was part of the side that won 20-16 against England back in 2010, when Ireland narrowly missed out on the title after an unbeaten tournament by France.

Sexton's poor kicking on that day led him to just one conversion from a possible three, so he will be looking to make amends this time around.

The Guardian's Ian Prior tweeted of his chat with rugby star Lawrence Dallaglio, who had an interesting tactic to stop the flying Sexton:

The Racing Metro 92 star, who has been handed 40 caps for his national side since his debut in 2009, currently finds himself in second place in the top points-scorer rankings at this year's tournament with 27, just five points behind Halfpenny.

It will be a battle of the No. 10s at Twickenham, and both players are in fine form to pick up the points in what is an all-important match.

England simply must win to keep their Six Nations hopes alive, while Ireland know victory for them puts them in pole position. They host Italy in round four, while England face a tricky home tie against Wales.

You're only as good as your last match in any sport, and momentum is especially important in rugby. If England are to keep any hopes of trophy success, they must beat Ireland and pray that victory in London will hinder their opponents both mentally and physically for the remainder of the tournament.

O'Driscoll set for caps record:

DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 02:  Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland looks on in the anthems during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on February 2, 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Brian O'Dricsoll will equal the record for international caps against England, after being passed fit following a stomach upset.

The 35-year-old trained on Thursday morning and has been named in an unchanged starting line-up by Schmidt, who currently sits with 138 caps for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions.

His appearance at Twickenham will level the record with Australian scrum-half George Gregan, with two games still to play after the match in London. 


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