Welsh Wizards To Put A Spell On England
Stuart Lancaster’s England side didn’t look that convincing in any of their warm-up fixtures although their final game, a 21-13 victory over Ireland was their best performance of the three.
They struggled at times against Fiji in their opening Pool A match and led by just seven points with a quarter of an hour left, but two late tries earned them a respectable victory and a bonus point.
Wales had a slow start to their World Cup warm-up games, losing to Ireland at the Millennium Stadium, but they showed improved form in their next two pre-tournament encounters, beating Ireland at Lansdowne Road and Italy at home. They kicked off in Pool A with a straightforward encounter against Uruguay and whilst they weren’t always fluent, they ran in eight tries in a 54-9 victory.
England came out of their opening game with a couple of injuries. Jonathan Joseph took a bang to the chest and Ben Morgan is struggling with a knee problem. Both will be given every chance to prove their fitness, but if they are unavailable, Brad Barritt, Henry Slade and Sam Burgess are all possible replacements for Joseph, whilst Billy Vunipola would replace Morgan at number eight.
Wales had already lost Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb before the tournament began and they have suffered further injury blows. Centre Cory Allen scored a hat-trick against Uruguay but picked up a hamstring injury and will take no further part in the competition. Liam Williams, Paul James, Samson Lee and Aaron Jarvis are also struggling to be fit. Tyler Morgan has been called up to replace Allen and Mike Phillips and Ross Moriarty have also been added to the Wales squad.
Head to Head
Since these two teams first played one another in 1881, victory has been shared evenly, with Wales winning 56 and England 58 of their 126 meetings.
Wales have had a slight edge in recent years, winning three of their last five fixtures against England, their most recent success being a 30-3 victory at the Millennium Stadium in 2013, a win that clinched the 6 Nations title.
But the men in red came up short in this year’s encounter with the old enemy in February. A makeshift England team overcame a 16-8 half-time deficit to record a famous 21-16 victory in Cardiff in the tournament’s opening match.
England lacked fluidity and invention against Fiji until Sam Burgess and Owen Farrell came on and it isn’t clear that Stuart Lancaster knows his best team. A nervy performance in front of an expectant Twickenham crowd could be on the cards and Wales look good value at odds against.
Back them at 14/5 in the Match Betting market and as a bonus
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*Prices correct at time of publication.