‘Wales have a chance against England’ – Six Nations weekend preview

England have won their last six Tests against Wales, including the last three games in a row
Six Nations 2018: England v Wales
Venue: Twickenham Date: Saturday, 10 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales & BBC Radio Cymru. Live text commentary and report on the BBC website and app.

"This time last week Wales had zero chance. Now, they have a chance."

Ex-Wales captain Martyn Williams says Saturday's Six Nations match between England and Wales at Twickenham is "as big as it can be" after both sides enjoyed comprehensive winning starts.

Champions England hammered Italy on Sunday and have won 14 home games in a row, but Williams believes Wales' scintillating win over Scotland last weekend shows they can cause an upset.

"Last week all the talk was Scotland, with everybody putting Wales down, but they sent them home packing," Williams told BBC Radio 5 live.

"It's a totally different game going to Twickenham and the expectation is now on Wales. No doubt they'll have respect for England, they're a different animal, but Wales will be confident.

"They have got their swagger back and Wales are dangerous team when they're confident."

England, who have a 100% record at Twickenham under Eddie Jones, have made two changes from their opening victory against Italy and will line up against an unchanged Wales side.

Danny Care will become England's most capped scrum-half when he wins his 78th cap and overtakes World Cup winner Matt Dawson, while Jonathan Joseph replaces Ben Te'o in the centre.

Rhys Patchell: Wales fly-half one day, U16s coach the next

But the build-up to the game has been dominated by England head coach Jones' criticism of various Welsh players including fly-half Rhys Patchell.

Jones said Patchell's own team-mates will have doubts over his "bottle" for Saturday's meeting, comments which were laughed off by the Wales camp.

Jones also questioned Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones' conduct towards referee Pascal Gauzere in Cardiff, prompting the Welshman to joke he was "ready for a chat with Uncle Eddie".

"I don't know if there's an element of deflection or anything like that," Jones said on Friday.

"But ultimately as players, that kind of stuff goes on outside the tent. We are inside the tent and we need to deal with what goes on inside the white lines."

Where will England v Wales be won and lost?

Wales head coach Warren Gatland has three wins from eight matches at Twickenham since he took over in 2007

Wales centre Jamie Roberts, a guest on the Rugby Union Weekly podcast, believes Saturday's battle at Twickenham will be "like a game of chess".

England have won the last three encounters against Wales, including a last-gasp victory in Cardiff in the 2017 Six Nations, but in the past decade under Warren Gatland, Wales have secured three victories at Twickenham.

"I think the players believe they can win there," said Roberts, who expects the influence of "Test-match players", full-backs Leigh Halfpenny and Mike Brown, to be pivotal.

"We talk about the difference between club players and international players. Brown and Halfpenny are guys who can handle pressure and deliver basic skills repeatedly, time after time, at the highest level," he added.

Wales players in their matchday squad who have beaten England at Twickenham
Alun Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Samson Lee, Tomas Francis, Bradley Davies, Justin Tipuric, Gareth Davies, Scott Williams, George North, Leigh Halfpenny.

Ireland after a try in Dublin

Johnny Sexton scores monstrous match-winning drop-goal
Six Nations 2018: Ireland v Italy
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 10 February Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Ulster. Live text commentary, report and video highlights on the BBC website and app.

After a dramatic late victory against France in Paris last weekend, Ireland return home to Dublin to face an Italy side led by former Irish full-back Conor O'Shea.

Ireland are on a run of eight consecutive victories and the Azzurri have only managed two away wins in 45 attempts since joining the Championship in 2000.

Joe Schmidt has made four changes from their opening win, Leinster back row Jack Conan will make his Six Nations debut in place of British and Irish Lion CJ Stander while Jack McGrath, Devin Toner and Dan Leavy also come into the Irish pack.

20-year-old back Jordan Larmour, who has scored six tries in 14 games since making his Leinster debut, is among the replacements.

Scotland strong at Murrayfield

Greig Laidlaw captained Scotland to three wins from three at Murrayfield in last year's Six Nations
Six Nations 2018: Scotland v France
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Date: Sunday, 11 February Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Coverage: BBC One, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Live text commentary, report and video highlights on the BBC website and app.

After last weekend's disappointing start against Wales, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made six changes for the visit of France.

Former Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw will make his first Test start in nearly a year in place of Ali Price, who drops to the bench after a tricky afternoon in Cardiff.

Pre-tournament optimism around the Scots' prospects swiftly evaporated with last Saturday's 34-7 defeat, but in 2017 they only lost one Test at Murrayfield - to the All Blacks.

"I've been hammering it into the lads this week that we need to get excited and look to fill those jerseys up in front of our own people," said Laidlaw.

"We've only been beaten by New Zealand here in the past year so we are really excited to get our feet back on the ground here at Murrayfield."

You can watch Scotland play France live on BBC One on Sunday, 11 February, listen on BBC Radio or follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Source: BBC Rugby Union News

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By adamreeves / Administrator, bbp_keymaster on Feb 09, 2018