England v Wales – Rugby World Cup Preview

Saturday sees England facing Wales at Twickenham in one of top games in the group stages of this year’s Rugby World Cup. With only two teams qualifying from each group and both England and Wales still to face Australia, Saturday’s match is one that neither side will want to lose.

England coach Stuart Lancaster has made two key changes to his side after their opening match victory over Fiji last week. Fly-half George Ford has dropped to the bench to be replaced by Owen Farrell, while the injured Jonathan Joseph is replaced by Sam Burgess. In the pack, Billy Vunipola replaces the injured Ben Morgan at No 8. Impressive off the bench against Fiji, including scoring the important bonus point try, Lancaster will be looking for more of the same from Vunipola.

All eyes will again be on Burgess who featured as a substitute against Fiji. A couple of key off-loads were impressive but a missed tackle on Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo was one to forget and against better opposition, a missed tackle could be more costly.

The selection of Farrell over Ford is also proving a talking point with Ford coming into the World Cup as the first choice fly-half after an impressive Six Nations. Lancaster will be hoping that Farrell can control and dictate the match against the Welsh, with the more attacking threat of Ford being unleashed later on.

Wales go into Saturday’s match with a number of injury problems but coach Warren Gatland has named a strong Welsh side. Hallam Amos comes into replace Alex Cuthbert on the wing with full-back Liam Williams retaining his place after overcoming a thigh knock suffered in Wales’s opening match victory over Uruguay. Bradley Davies, who was outstanding in Wales’s victory over Ireland in last month’s World Cup warm-up match, partners Alun-Wyn Jones in the second row. Gatland has resisted from tinkering with his first choice back row of Dan Lydiate, captain Sam Warburton and No8 Taulupe Faletau, despite flanker Justin Tipuric’s recent run of impressive form. Prop Gethin Jenkins, capped 115 times, will start his fourth World Cup campaign, joined in the front row

England and Wales have met twice before in the World Cup, with each side winning one match each. The overall series of games between the countries stands at 58-56 in England’s favour,

although Waleshave beaten England twice at Twickenham during Warren Gatland’s reign, winning 26-19 in 2008 and 19-12 in 2012.

England are the 1.33 (1/3) favourites for success on Saturday with Wales 4 (3/1) and the draw available at 26 (25/1). The rugby tip for Saturday’s match is Wales on the match handicap receiving a 9 point start at 2 (EVS).


By: Scott McGlynn

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