Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is preparing for Twickenham’s showdown with England and admits his side must improve.
His arch-rivals once held out hope of overhauling French opponents in the battle for Guinness Six Nations glory following the weekend’s victory.
Ireland had an hour-long two-man advantage following Sunday’s bold 57-6 win over Italy, while Eddie Jones’ men survived the fear of late beating Wales 23-19 days yesterday.
Farrell – who was impressed by England’s performance against the defending champions – believes both teams must consider many things before trying to keep their respective title hopes alive in an important clash in the fourth round.
“We knew they were going to give us a hard time,” he said of England.
“Sometimes Italy has gone astray and we were not prepared enough, so we need to be a little more precise there.
“We know that they like to play football for territory a lot, like what they did a few seasons ago.
“I thought they played well (against Wales). I think in the first half they were very dominant in terms of territory and they continued to maintain the scoreboard.
“They absolutely deserved the lead in the first half and I think there will be a lot for them to ponder over the next few weeks, just like us.”
Ireland and England have each registered two wins and one loss so far, with the front-runner higher on the leaderboard thanks to an additional bonus point.
Farrell’s men ended up running for nine times against the dwindling Italians, who were reduced to 13 in just 19 minutes due to an unclear law.
The loss of Gianmarco Lucchesi and replacement Hame Faiva to injury and red cards respectively led to uncontrollable turmoil in Dublin and forced the removal of an additional player.
It was Toa Halafihi who made the sacrifice while a belated yellow card for Braam Steyn meant the Azzurri finished the game with just 12 players.
While pleased with the dramatic increase in his team’s point difference, Farrell felt the performance could have been more convincing.
“It took us a while to calm down and see how the game went,” the England international finished the tournament at home to Scotland.
“We thought there were gaps everywhere and we made the wrong decisions on the back of that.
“We were talking about us but at the end of the day we told the players that 57-6, we definitely got that before the game.
“It puts us in a good position now that as far as the point difference is concerned, now are the next two games that we need to win in order to win the competition.”
A brace for debutants Michael Lowry and James Lowe, plus other scores from Joey Carbery, Jamison Gibson-Park, Peter O’Mahony, Ryan Baird and Kieran Treadwell took the toll against the Azzurri.
Carbery also added two of his five conversion attempts, while his replacement Johnny Sexton was perfect with his four.
Ireland entered the second two-week break of the championship with a few injury problems encountered against Italy.
Substitute Andrew Porter, who was substituted shortly after half-time, is being treated for an ankle strain and center Robbie Henshaw is being evaluated for a head injury.
Farrell said of Porter: “He had a slight graze on his ankle. “He ran it and he should be able to carry on but we think we’ll get him out of that phase.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/andy-farrell-urges-ireland-to-step-it-up-as-he-braces-for-england-onslaught-41394222.html Andy Farrell urges Ireland to step it up as he prepares for England to hit hard