Wales: Trailing 7-3 at half-time in Rome, Rob Howley’s Wales were on course for a shock defeat against Italy in Round One. But they regathered in the second-half, going on to score 30 unanswered points thanks to tries from Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams and George North, and the ever-reliable boot of full-back Leigh Halfpenny. Although they dominated both possession and territory throughout, Wales failed to pick up the four-try bonus point, which could prove costly in the final standings.
England: A 19-16 win over France at Twickenham was England’s 15th consecutive victory, a national record surpassing the World Cup-winning Class of 2003. 9-9 at half-time last weekend, England eventually edged Les Bleus by the narrowest of margins. The Red Rose may have got the victory, but head coach Eddie Jones won’t have been overly happy with their performance and they’ll be looking to improve the quality of their rugby in Cardiff.
For Wales, former skipper Sam Warburton impressed from the blindside flank against Italy alongside talented Osprey Justin Tipuric. Bath duo Luke Charteris and Toby Faletau both missed Round One through injury, and could come into the XV this weekend. Fly-half Dan Biggar went off injured at half-time against Italy and, if unavailable, understudy Sam Davies is expected to deputise in the 10 role.
Prop Mako Vunipola could return for England this weekend after missing Round One through injury, but clubmate George Kruis has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament with knee ligament damage, and there are concerns over the fitness of openside Tom Wood. If the Northampton man doesn’t make it to Cardiff, the visitors could be forced to field an inexperienced Test back-row of Maro Itoje, Jack Clifford and Nathan Hughes against a British and Irish Lions trio of Warburton, Tipuric and Faletau, where Wales will look to gain the upper-hand. You can get 4/11 on the first try of the game coming from either side’s back-line.
England beat Wales 25-21 in last season’s Six Nations at Twickenham, revenge somewhat for their agonising loss in the pool stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. If you sense another narrow win, England are 13/8 to emerge victorious by 1-12 points, whilst Wales stand at 27/10 to do the same.
In last year’s corresponding fixture, 20 of England’s 25 points came from the boot of Saracen Owen Farrell. After finishing the 2016 competition as top points scorer with 69 points, the inside centre will once again be a key man for Eddie Jones’ England and can be backed at 18/1 to score the first try of the game.
Farrell has the vision and creativity to unleash England’s speedsters out wide, along with a defensive game up there with some of the best tackling backs in world rugby. Wales could target England’s 10 channel, sending heavy-duty traffic in the shape of Scott Williams and George North directly into George Ford, and Farrell will look to assist his teammate where possible in the defensive line. Helped by Paul Gustard’s wolfpack mentality, England will look to stop Wales’ main ball carriers from gaining momentum over the gain line.
- Sports.net’s top tip: First Try Scorer: Owen Farrell at 18/1
Odds may fluctuate before kick off.