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Lawrence Dallaglio column: Physical battle is key if England are to finish Six Nations on a high in Ireland

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England’s final Six Nations match in Dublin on Saturday will define their campaign. They started awfully against Scotland, but were superb against France last weekend. They cannot win the title, but their tournament hangs in the balance.

The France game was a relief and a pleasure to watch, and to win at the death having been behind for much of the game would have been particularly sweet, but England must back it up.

It has been a strange campaign and I have some empathy with the tight bubble conditions that they have lived in.

There are worse places to be holed up for two months than the Lensbury Hotel, but it must have felt like being on tour without the good bits, such as seeing different places.

I get the impression it has brought the group closer together as they have circled the wagons and spent so much time in close proximity. Now, they have to use that bond to finish on a high. The order has to be for more of the same, so Eddie Jones making just one forced change — with Elliot Daly back at outside centre, where he made his name for Wasps — makes sense.

Daly looked sharp off the bench last week, as if he was lifted by England’s better performance. That he and Max Malins are now both in the same back line is a tick for the new full-back, too.

England have won their past four games against Ireland, a run which began with a brilliant performance on their last visit to Dublin, in 2019.

That run has been built on physically overpowering Ireland, asserting themselves up front and dominating the gain line.

Win that physical battle again, and England will be able to play with the same attacking spirit they showed against France.

Elliot Daly returns against Ireland – at outside centre

/ Getty Images

In that game, they were possibly liberated by France’s early try. This time, I’d like to see England throw the gauntlet down. It takes two to tango, but England can take the lead.

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