Grand Slam chasers England are two fifths of the way towards the ultimate Six Nations prize, but on Saturday they face their first real obstacle.
Negotiating Scotland and Italy may not have been a given, but a loss to either would have posed real questions to Eddie Jones’s nascent tenure.
Now reigning champions Ireland head to Twickenham, although they’re not opponents in good shape so far.
A stuttering draw with Wales and a labouring defeat to France mean the men in green are all but out of the running for this year’s championship.
And even their stronger sides have struggled to prevail at HQ in recent times. It has now been six years since Ireland travelled to England and won, and they’ve only conquered the Red Rose once at all venues since 2011.
Add that England haven’t lost at home in the Six Nations for nine Tests, and the facts are stacking up against the visitors.
One thing in Ireland’s favour is that the fixtures have tended to be evenly matched. In the past four Tests between the two at Twickenham, England have won by eight, nine, three and six points.
With those margins in mind, I’ll take Betway’s odds of 7/5 that England will win by 1-12 points.
It could be a ding-dong battle. England have already found their scoring feet, and can build on their expansive game now that momentum has been gained.
Ireland, without a stable of senior players lost to injury or retirement, should also be a stronger prospect now that their inexperienced replacements have bedded in.
It’s been 13 games since fewer than 30 points were scored in an England Test at Twickenham – ironically the last occurrence was against Ireland in 2014.
I don’t see a repeat of that 13-10 snooze-fest, so a buy of total points at 39 with Sporting Index looks like a good option.
England win by 1-12 points 7/5 (Betway)
Total points scored 39 (Sporting Index)