England and Wales clash in HQ on Sunday in a truly mouthwatering clash which will make o’r break both teams’ title aspirations.
England riding high after a thrilling 13-10 win over leaders Ireland and playing an exciting brand of Rugby, go into Sunday’s match high on confidence and belief, and with Italy to come next know that If they can overcome Gatland’s men they will be in a very healthy position come Saturday week.
While Wales-looking to make it a record 3 titles on the bounce seem to have regained their mojo following a 27-6 dismantling of France, and will come to London in confident mood that they can pick up their third consecutive win against the red rose.
One thing’s for sure-its going to be tight and its going to be tense, with only a few points in it.
England will look to marry the power and robustness of their pack with the attacking threat of Care, Twelvetrees, Brown and May and look to disrupt the Welsh at the breakdown a la Ireland. Having made the highest number of clean breaks during the tournament-23, England will be looking to open up the game whenever the opportunity arises.
With a solid lineout and a powerful, abrasive pack Robshaw and co will also look to attack the Welsh lineout by implementing the driving maul which served Ireland so well in Dublin recently. Their achilles heel for many a year, Launchbury and Laws will look to disrupt the Welsh lineout as O’Connell and go did so effectively.
While Wales will seek to attack the English scrum-an area where they have the edge, and where England without Dan Cole struggled against the Irish, and dominate the breakdown through Warburton.
Getting big ball carriers like Hibberd, Wyn Jones and Faletau on the front foot and then get Roberts over the gain line, before launching strike runners such as Davies, North and Cuthbert off quick ball will be another key Welsh strategy, allied with an aggressive defence. With the fewest tackles missed in the tournament (45), Wales’ miserly defence will look to prevent England from scoring a try against them for the 3rd consecutive time.
Despite a big improvement against France, Wales still need to improve their attacking game. With the lowest number of clean breaks and defenders beaten in the tournament, Gatland’s men need to up their game in order to make dents in a decent English defence.
While England need to be more clinical in their finishing, having blown a couple of clear chances against Ireland including Johnnie May’s dropped ball with the line at his mercy.
By way of a better scrum and their greater big match experience-Wales’ squad boast 874 caps compared to England’s 401, I’m going for Wales by 3, but boy is it going to be tight!