With England overcoming a potential banana skin of French side in flux, England are preparing to take the golden chariot onto Cardiff, where an experienced Welsh side is preparing to rip into England’s growing confidence and possibly make their own stake for a Grand Slam.
Eddie Jones has already stated his side will have to be at their best to down Warren Gatland’s men and is eager to embrace the challenge awaiting them at the Principality Stadium.
“We are playing the greatest Welsh side ever so we need to be at our absolute best,” said Jones.
“Preparation starts on Wednesday, you know when you play against a Warren Gatland side, who has been at the top of the tree in European rugby for the past 15 years through club, country and the Lions, that you will be up against a tough physical team that contest hard at the breakdown and we’ll have to earn every point.“We are looking forward to going down there…it should be fun”
England have now defeated France 44-8 at Twickenham Stadium, following on from last weekend’s wonderful victory over Ireland…which didn’t go down too well with my Irish wife.
So how is the Welsh camp feeling? Wales coach Warren Gatland says he will be happy if his side are underestimated following a poor performance against Italy, the traditional 6 Nations whipping boys.
He said: “A lot of people will write us off, which is a good position to be in. Hopefully we’ll go under the radar.
“A lot of people will look to criticize us but you have to give Italy some credit for how they played,” added Gatland. Personally, I think he’s right. Italy, although the perennial wooden spooners, have made strides under Conor O’Shea and only 5-10 years ago this result would be a far more depressing result for Italian fans.
“That’s probably the best Italian performance I’ve seen since I’ve been in charge of Wales.” concludes Gatland.
Now let’s add some more spice to the forthcoming Wales vs England Match. Not only could it potentially decide which team will go onto to compete for a Grand Slam and Triple Crown, but if Wales win they will achieve a record-breaking 12th successive Test win if they defeat England to beat the milestone set in 1910.
“We didn’t speak about the record at all this week but we will probably talk about it before England,” said Gatland. “If this group of players achieve that, it’ll be something nobody can take away from them.
So…who will win. Both managers will be in a confident place. Both teams are riding a crest of a wave, injury free to a certain extent and both teams want to put down massive markers for the world cup. However England have had two reasonably tough matches already and with Farrell being so controlling and explosive at fly-half, while Wales have struggled against Italy, you feel England should win by 10 points in Cardiff. However, let’s not forget, it’s Cardiff where the two teams meet and Wales will benefit from the 16th man in the crowd cheering them on and installing a fortress mentality. Not only that, Wales would love to spoil England’s party and clinch a 12th successive win…so the pendulum of thought has swung back towards a Welsh win by possibly 5 points.
So as I scratch my head one last time pondering who will win…I haven’t a clue, its on a knife edge, but its surely going to be a fantastic match.
You will be able to watch the Wales vs England match on BBC1 at 4.45 p.m.