Six Nations 2018: Wales team to play England

Ross Moriarty

Ross Moriarty

Warren Gatland has named an unchanged starting team to play against England at Twickenham this weekend.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said:

“It’s great to name an unchanged starting XV, the players deserve that for a very good performance on the opening weekend.

“We have made one change on the bench, with George coming in for Owen (Watkin), which is tough on Owen but Josh (Adams) picked up a slight strain last weekend so George provides us a bit more cover there.

“We know how tough it is going to be against that huge English forward pack. They are really going to test us. England have been in great form the last couple of years so we know the challenge we face but we have had a good couple of weeks in camp and we are looking forward to going up to Twickenham.”

15 Leigh Halfpenny
14 Josh Adams
13 Scott Williams
12 Hadleigh Parkes
11 Steff Evans
10 Rhys Patchell
9 Gareth Davies

8 Ross Moriarty
7 Josh Navidi
6 Aaron Shingler
5 Alun Wyn Jones (c)
4 Cory Hill
3 Samson Lee
2 Ken Owens
1 Rob Evans

16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 George North

Where do you think are the main threats that England will be worried about? Can you see this side winning at Twickenham?

21 thoughts on “Six Nations 2018: Wales team to play England

  1. The breakdown. We were almost lethargic in our clearing out against Italy and we will need to be much sharper against Wales or they will just turn ball over all day long.

    Could see Wales peppering our wings with crossfield kicks given the apparent weakness there last Sunday, but I imagine this will be one of the focusses of Eddie and co this week, along with discipline.

    1. thats right out of the Gatland “mindgames” playbook
      Point out the area you intend to try and dominate and label it as a huge strength of the opposition. I think it was the scrum last year and speed of the defensive live the year before

  2. A bit bigger I think, but it’s a bit of a cliche. I’ll try to do the head to head stats of pack weights / caps etc that I did in the Autumn. Ran out of time last week, with Italy only naming their side on Friday afternoon.

  3. Backrow is where this game will be won or lost for me. Wales are incredibly good over the ball, and that Tipuric is still on the bench shows a lot. I worry that Robshaw and Lawes just won’t be competitive enough at the breakdown.
    Moriarty vs Simmonds will be an interesting battle. They are both so different to their respective first choices (Faletau and Vunipola), that it changes the way the entire team plays.

    1. I think the key here, and to an earlier comment is “competitive enough”. England’s lethargy at the breakdown against Italy shows where England want the ball to be and where they want to play the game (IMO). Perhaps underestimating the Italian backline a little but able to play the game where England wanted to knowing that a couple of concessions out wide pulled the game a little in field. Have to assume that Eddie is instilling the mindset that we pull the game to where we want to play it based on assessed area of dominance. Have faith in the system 🙂

  4. I think Underhill would be useful vs Wales, one thing he has proven is he can chop down trees with his tackles and plenty of them. Often his tackling forces errors so whilst not always ‘over the ball’ turnover, he forces errors.

    But then you have the Lawes, Itojie, Launch selection problem. I’ll leave that to Eddie – he’s paid more than me

    1. Rugger80 – feels like you might be thinking more about stopping Wales, rather than what Eng need to do with the ball??

      SS obviously played really well against Italy, and will be retained at 8. However, until he found broken field (first try) I don’t recall him getting any yards at all – he’s lightening quick and give him a yard and he’ll take a mile, but he didn’t show an ability to get 2 or 3 yards in close contact (haven’t seen Exeter play, maybe he can do this, just didn’t).

      We know Robshaw and Underhill can’t grind out those yards, so if SS can’t either then Eng will have no front-foot ball, Ford/Farrell won’t have any time, and Watson will never see the ball.

      My conclusion…if Robshaw and SS start, Eng need all 3 locks to start too (until BV gets back obvs).

      1. It seemed to me that for the first half Simmonds was feeling his way into international rugby, concentrating on not making any mistakes, making sure he hit all his tackles and getting through as much work as possible.
        He seemed to become more comfortable in the second half, carrying the ball more but still keeping up the tackle count and the high rate of involvement.
        I reckon there’s more to come from him in terms of blending all this together and hopefully we will see this against the Welsh. He can carry in traffic, as he scores a number of tries for Exeter from close range – but it doesn’t seem to be his forte.
        If Hartley is starting to carry more and we are playing Te’o rather than Joseph then the need for heavy carriers in the back row is reduced somewhat.
        Of more concern than carriers is the breakdown and a unit that includes either Lawes or Itoje at 6 will get schooled by the Welsh and this area could well be the key to the game. Time to play a proper flanker at 6.

  5. England won’t focus on stopping Wales but on how they can get their game out on the park…. for this game they will probably kick long and off the pitch, apply pressure at welsh line out and make Wales kick back. They will use line speed to take airtime off the ball and take points when on offer. I wouldn’t be surprised to see England narrow up their attack and try and tire out Wales front 5. England set mails up from kick offs really well and I expect to see more mauls created off rucks as well to tie in Wales back row. Same for lineout, lots of drive set ups at the tail

    1. Spot on Gerraint and this is the reason I think Eddie will start with Wigglesworth and keep Care on the bench. Care did a good job from an early stage of the game against Italy, but Wiggy is by far the better tactical kicker.

      1. Two years ago I would have agreed with you unreservedly Dazza but I think Care has closed that gap significantly. To me the question is whether England would want to go into the next WC with a 35 year old “steady Eddie” as number one scrum half if Youngs was not fit. To me the answer is no. Care has looked a class player for some time now and deserves to be given a chance to cement the starting berth. If he can’t be trusted to do the job after 77 caps he should not be in the squad.

        1. I don’t think of not being trusted to do a job though. It’s a case of you have two scrum halves, one who is very good at applying pressure through kicking and field positioning (Youngs/Wigglesworth); the other is very good at exploiting gaps (Care). The gaps are far more likely to exist in the latter stages, and so it makes far more sense to play Care towards the end. It’s selecting a squad to suit the tactics, rather than just trying to get the best 15 players out on the pitch and hope their ability wins the match.

          1. I agree here and nothing cements the phrase “finishers” like DC. The starting 15 is becoming less of a tier and more of an 80 minute strategy.

    2. Said the same in an earlier comment. I think a lot of us armchair managers think about stopping threats to our game but true competitors plan for forcing the game to their plan

  6. Again, 2 years ago I would have agreed on that view. I’d suggest looking at Danny care’s offensive kicking this year, he has been stunningly good at creating tries with his nudges into backfield etc….See the game against Sale where he identified linespeed, and nudged into the space between the line and the full back before using stunning wipers for two tries….

    1. Equally you could look at that box kick he put straight up last weekend!

      On balance, based on their entire careers, it’s probably fair to say Wigglesworth offers a more controlled kicking game, whereas Care is more of an individual attacking threat.

      I’d have Wigglesworth starting, if nothing else because I don’t think he’ll offer much from the bench. Care after 60 mins is probably still as quick as a fresh Wigglesworth!

      His inclusion more generally makes sense though. He was involved in the 2015 WC squad, along with most of the current set-up. He’s familiar with a Gustard defence, and a Borthwick-run pack. He’s also won and lost some pretty big games over the years, so has a far better understanding of what it takes than the other contenders.

      1. I’m not sure that one badly hit box kick cancels out all of Care’s good form of the past couple of years.

        I am quite sure I have seen both Youngs and Wigglesworth miscue kicks before

        I think and hope Ww is a stop gap as Eddie doesn’t want to risk anyone without some international experience against the Welsh. I was never convinced by Ww at international level previously and don’t think the intervening time has done him many favours. He is a great club player and a steady hand, but not more than that.

        Care should start of course. At present, he is far and away the form scrum half in England in all areas of the game.

        However, there is definitely a feeling of chickens coming home to roost for EJ. He should have been bringing a replacement along for a while now. It has always seemed like a strange omission

  7. I can not remeber when Ireland last beat Wales I think it was in 2013 I think and I hope it will be a great game though against England , why I mentioned Ireland is because someone said that Wales would lose both games after Twickenham .
    Anyone knows who actually play rugby that Wales were far too good for Scotland upfront and bullied them psychically it wasn’t nothing to do with Scotland not turning up there a professional rugby team , they come to play but we’re unable too .

    I think Wales have been under achieving in this tournament , when they have been without Warren Gatland and it has showed with the great coach going to the Lions .

    It will be a good game but England should come out winners with home advantage but if England think it will be easy think again them Welsh guys are good footballers and if England get complacent then Gatland and the Welsh will win the game , like two years ago at Twickenham they nearly nicked the game at the end and these two sides have been very close games .

    I think these two sides are the best teams in the tournament with Ireland just behind .
    My predication England 21 Wales 19 .


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