Saturday, March 12, 2016

England v Wales: Head-to-Heads

When the two nations either side of Offah's Dyke clash it surely stirs plenty of emotions and even more speculation. Everyone has their own opinions on just how it will go, although the margins between the two are fine.

So, where will the game be won and lost? Here's our view;

Bench v Bench
It is usually the finest of margins that settle these games and often it's the team that finishes strongest, rather than the one who starts bright, who wins. With that in mind, the benches are invaluable. The backs on England's bench are probably stronger than those of their neighbours. Wales, arguably, have better forwards at their disposal though. There are plenty of chances for heroics among the replacements and who ever utilises their bench best might just win it.

Dan Cole v Rob Evans
Eddie Jones couldn't help but stoke the fire surrounding the scrum and the battle between these two could be huge. Plenty of the talk will be of Joe Marler v Samson Lee on the other side of the scrum, but new boy Evans is settling in well and Cole's perceived strength is questionable. How both respond is of the upmost importance. 

George Kruis v Alun Wyn Jones
A battle in the boiler house between men with incredible work rates. Excellent line out jumpers, solid breakdown operators and masters of huge tackles; huge in both impact and quantity. Alun Wyn has become a totem for Wales, whilst Kruis' future looks just about as promising.

Billy Vunipola v Talupe Faletau
The unstoppable force; the immovable object. It's a sporting cliche, but it's fitting to say the least. School friends choosing different allegiances nationally, they collide again at Twickenham. Vunipola is big running, ball carrier with a playing style similar to the boulder in Indiana Jones. Faletau's defence is much stronger than that of his cousin and, whilst his style isn't as blunt, he is an effective ball carrier. Vunipola is one of the stars of the tournament so far, but Faletau remains one of the best - if not the best - number 8s in the world.

Jonathan Joseph v Jonathan Davies
The battle of the two Jonathan's at 13. Joseph is the Six Nations' in form centre. The Bath man has 4 tries to his name, has made 288 metres and completed 45 tackles, he also bagged a try in the reverse fixture last year. Davies meanwhile is perhaps one of the most underrated players in the game. A man whose easy running style belies his pace and who leads the line defensively. Famously picked ahead of Brian O'Driscoll for what would have been BOD's last Lions test, it shows highly the coaches rate him...and with good reason.

Mike Brown v Liam Williams
Two fiery fullbacks with a penchant for attack. Born winners with a natural aggression, expect neither to take a step backwards in a personal or team battle. Both players eat up the ground with ball in hand and are tough in defence.

Eddie Jones v Warren Gatland
Jones delivered on his promise of a self enforced media blackout for a couple of weeks, but came back with a bang. Little doubt his comments regarding the Welsh scrum were for Craig Joubert to consider before kick off. Gatland has been a little quieter. No grenades thrown from the Waikato man. Now both will put their money where their mouth is; England v Wales, Aussie v Kiwi, bring it on.

Small margins could decide the game and whoever wins the set piece will take a massive step towards winning the game.

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