Having won convincingly at Twickenham last weekend, the pressure is off England this time as the teams head to the Millennium Stadium for a rematch.
Instead it is Wales who will be feeling that this is a must-win match for them, lest they head into a potential Rugby World Cup quarter-final meeting having lost two in a row to England, home and away – and against an England side that is not full-strength.
Eddie Jones has only made a couple of changes, with Charlie Ewels discarded from the squad and Tom Curry sitting this one out after coming off injured last weekend. Ruaridh McConnochie will win his first cap if he can stay fit between now and kick-off, and the bench is stronger for the presence of Owen Farrell, Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler.
As has been discussed at length on the team selection article, it’s unusual to see two hookers on the bench, and it seems as though Eddie will test out some contingency plans with a few players out of position. I’m not against this is a strategy, and we know how meticulously Sir Clive would try to prepare his team for every eventuality. That’s not to say though that I don’t have a few issues with the imbalance of Jones’ squad selection, but this is the squad and these are the players that Eddie has to work with.
The seemingly undroppable Elliot Daly is collecting a few doubters, particularly after a strong showing from Anthony Watson last weekend, and he needs a commanding performance at full-back this weekend to justify his continued selection.
Wales are missing the unfortunate Gareth Anscombe, but Dan Biggar is an able deputy and one that always raises his game against England. I would expect Biggar to be testing Daly, and generally employing a kicking game to push England back, and it will be interesting to see how it goes – and if there are any ramifications if Daly continues to look a little shaky.
James Davies at openside flanker is an interesting proposition, and with England lacking an ‘out and out’ 7 and with three locks in the starting lineup, Jonathan’s brother could cause some issues at the breakdown.
With home advantage and a lot more to lose, I think Wales might sneak it this time.
Wales by 2
Here are some facts and figures that may also help with your predictions, courtesy of GentingBet
‘The Biggar Picture’
- Despite Wales’ 14 point loss to England at Twickenham last weekend, let’s not forget they were in red hot form heading into that.
- They’re unbeaten at home in 11 matches including a 21-13 victory over England in this year’s Six Nations.
- England have won four of the last five matches against Wales, but the majority of those victories have come at home.
- Yes, Gareth Anscombe is a big blow for Wales but there’s no question that Dan Biggar is a more than adequate replacement.
- Although on average Anscombe has gained more metres for Wales in 2019 (15.6m to Biggar’s 7.9m), Biggar’s kicking accuracy trumps Anscombe’s (94% to 78%).
- he pair have near identical records for tackles won too with Biggar’s 88% just pipping Anscombe’s 87%. Importantly though, Biggar has also missed less tackles and conceded fewer turnovers.
- Finally, both are well disciplined figures, just the one penalty for Biggar between the pair for Wales in 2019.
Wales to win – 11/10 with GentingBet
Wales to win by 1-5 points – 7/2 with GentingBet
England to win – 17/20 with GentingBet
Could England actually do it again? Surely not?