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Rugby Union: England & Wales Set To Clash


England start as favourites and will be heavily backed to beat Wales-again- at Twickenham where the Welsh have not won in the Six Nations since 2012 when they beat their long standing and traditional enemy by 19-12.

In the last round England beat Italy by 33-0, and while this is no guide as how they’ll perform against much tougher opponents, at least they won in a much-improved display following the defeat at Murrayfield by Scotland.

Wales, now led by new skipper, fly half Dan Biggar, were outplayed by Ireland..29-7..in their opening game, but recovered sharply against Scotland, beaten in Cardiff 20-17, so will not be short of confidence, especially as one of their best forwards for many campaigns, Taulupe Faletau, is back fit after being out of action for seven months with an ankle injury.

The British and Irish Lions back row forward, capped 86 times by Wales, has been recalled to his country’s squad for the England game..a huge boost for their chances.

He’s looked in top form recently for Bath for whom he played against Leicester in the Premiership at the weekend, and Wales coach Wayne Pivac, had no hesitation whatsoever in putting Faletau back into his squad.

England boosted by return of injured stars

Two of the biggest names in international rugby, centre Manu Tuilagi, 30, of Sales Sharks, and Courtney Lawes, 32 , the Northampton forward, have recovered from injury and are being lined up to face Wales.

Capped 46 times since his first England Test in 2011, Tuilagi-at his peak one of the most explosive runners in world rugby-is now over his hamstring problems, and his appearance will delight most of the 82,000 crowd at Twickenham.

Wales should be concerned as the powerful England centre can ruin defences and how Tuilagi combines with fly half Marcus Smith should be one of the highlights of the match.

Similarly, Jones will be delighted to have Lawes, expected to be named captain in place of Tom Curry, back in action to reinforce the England pack.

Capped 90 times, Lawes is so experienced, and against a Welsh pack that fought tigerishly against Scotland, England will need his power, authority and class if they are to prevent what would be a shock Wales victory.

Itoje and Beard set to clash

Just as the contest between the two fly halves, Smith and Biggar, will be crucial to the result, so will the lineout battle between Itoje and Beard, the Wales vice-captain.

Both played for the Lions last summer in South Africa, but don’t expect them to be on friendly terms this Saturday. Capped 30 times for Wales, Beard, 26, who plays for Ospreys, has grown in stature as a second row forward, but it can be argued that Itoje,who’s appeared in 50 Tests for England, may be a stronger all-round player because he competes for Saracens in a stronger club competition, the Premiership, than Beard(United Rugby Championship) and also he’s more experienced internationally.