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RugbyU: Ireland unchanged for England

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Ireland coach Declan Kidney announced an unchanged side Friday to play England in Sunday's Six Nations international at Dublin's Lansdowne Road.

Flanker Peter O'Mahony, who suffered a head knock, and backs Gordon D'Arcy (dead leg) and Keith Earls (shoulder) were all passed fit after suffering injuries during Ireland's tournament-opening 30-22 win over Grand Slam champions Wales in Cardiff last weekend.

"The players have recovered pretty well from the Wales game," Kidney told reporters at Ireland's hotel on Friday. "We took 48 hours off after the match and have toned down training since.

"Gordon, Peter and Sean all trained fully this morning so we don't envisage there being any changes," Kidney added after seeing his side given a scare in a tough second half at the Millennium Stadium where star centre Brian O'Driscoll, full-back Rob Kearney, flanker Sean O'Brien and prop Mike Ross also suffered injuries that have healed during the weak.

Sunday's match is already being billed as a potential title-decider after England defeated Scotland 38-18 at Twickenham in a first round where Italy opened up the Championship by beating pre-tournament favourites France.

England, though, have not won a Six Nations match in Dublin since their 2003 Grand Slam -- the last time they beat all their major European rivals in a single Championship.

Attempts to emulate that feat two years came to grief when England suffered a convincing 24-8 loss in Dublin.

However, England's last visit to the Irish capital, also in 2011, ended in a 20-9 World Cup warm-up win.

And when the teams last met, England thrashed Ireland 30-9 at Twickenham in the Six Nations last year after dominating the scrum following an early injury to Irish prop Mike Ross.

Ireland, however, have won seven of the last nine Championship matches between the two countries.

Sunday's clash will be given added spice by the ongoing battle for places in the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia later this year, with fly-halves Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) and Owen Farrell (England) both bidding to be the combined side's starting No 10 against the Wallabies.

Earlier on Friday, England coach Stuart Lancaster made one change to his starting line-up, with James Haskell coming into a revamped back-row after No 8 Ben Morgan was ruled out with an ankle injury.

Ireland (15-1)

Rob Kearney; Craig Gilroy, Brian O'Driscoll, Gordon D'Arcy, Simon Zebo; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip (capt), Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony; Donnacha Ryan, Mike McCarthy; Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy

Replacements: Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Declan Fitzpatrick, Donncha O'Callaghan, Chris Henry, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Keith Earls

jdg/phz

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130208/rugbyu-ireland-unchanged-england-0