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The key battles in store for Ireland’s clash with England

Eddie Jones has gone all guns blazing with his team selection for what promises to be a cracking encounter with Ireland.

The England head coach has made four changes in his starting pack, and one positional change, from the side that beat Georgia 40-0.

However, all those changes come in the pack, with the Australian retaining his back line that never quite got going against the Georgians.

Here’s where we reckon the key battles will be fought on Saturday.

Andrew Porter vs Mako Vunipola

Porter has done an excellent job in replacing the injured Tadhg Furlong and showed how destructive he can be at scrum time against Wales’ Rhys Carre.

However, British and Irish Lion Mako Vunipola will be an entirely different prospect.

Ireland won’t be expected to have the upper hand in the scrum but they do need to at least hold their own.

If England start winning penalties at the set-piece from early on Andy Farrell’s men could be in for a long day at the office.

Caelan Doris vs Billy Vunipola

Another young man with the unenviable task of taking on one of the Vunipola brothers.

Saturday will be Doris’ second encounter with the English, after coming off the bench in the Six Nations game earlier this year, but Vunipola didn’t feature that day.

The bruising back-rower has been crucial to England’s game plan since he first burst his way onto the international scene, providing his side with plenty of front foot ball.

Should Doris, with a little help from CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony, manage to limit Vunipola’s impact it could go a long way towards clinching a win in London.

Ross Byrne vs Owen Farrell

George Ford has returned from injury but Jones has opted to keep the Leicester fly half on the bench, instead of starting with the Ford-Farrell axis at 10 and 12.

While that may mean that England will have a relatively limited distribution in the back line, Byrne will still have his work cut out for him against Farrell.

The England captain has spent plenty of time at inside centre for his country, but is still easily one of the most talented fly-halves in the world.

Simply put, Ross Byrne will need to put in the performance of his career to get the better of his opposite number.

Hugo Keenan vs Elliot Daly

Yet again it’s the case of an inexperienced Irishman against an internationally proven Englishman, this time at full back.

Both men have spent much of their career on the wing but are also accomplished number 15s in their own right.

Keenan did more than hold his own last week against the Welsh, and impressed in the air in dealing with Leigh Halfpenny’s kicking game.

The Leinster man can expect more aerial bombardment this weekend and will need to be on high alert all afternoon to deal with Daly’s massive boot.

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