Wales Ready For Revenge Over Old Enemy
Wales v England
The 2015 6 Nations gets off to a cracking start at the Millennium Stadium on Friday when Wales take on England…
After a lacklustre 6 Nations title defence, 2014 was a struggle for Wales. They lost both Tests in South Africa and were disappointing in three autumn internationals, losing to Australia and New Zealand and narrowly beating Fiji. But they earned a measure of redemption in their final game of the year, at long last overcoming southern hemisphere opponents with a 12-6 win over South Africa.
Beaten into second in the 6 Nations by Ireland, England endured a bruising year in which they lost all three Tests in New Zealand and fell short against the All-Blacks again in their opening autumn international. That defeat was followed by a narrow Twickenham loss to South Africa before Stuart Lancaster’s men ended the year with a victory over Samoa and a moral-boosting success against Australia.
The return to fitness of George North and Richard Hibbard means that Wales are more or less at full strength for their 6 Nations opener. North will take the place of Liam Williams on the wing and Hibbard will replace Scott Baldwin in the front row. Captain Sam Warburton will start in a formidable back row alongside Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau, and Ospreys pair Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar will be at half-back.
The final round of European Champions Cup pool games have proven disastrous for England. Six players picked up injuries, including Owen Farrell, who will be out for the tournament, to add to a sick list that already included Ben Foden, Joe Launchbury, Ben Morgan and Ed Slater.
The England pack in particular will have a makeshift look about it and will include Dan Coles, who hasn’t played since Christmas.
Since these two teams first played one another in 1881, victory has been shared evenly, with Wales winning 56 and England 57 of their 125 meetings. That has also been the pattern of their 6 Nations rivalry.
Wales have had the upper hand in recent years, winning three of their last four fixtures against England, their most recent success being a 30-3 victory at the Millennium Stadium, a win that clinched the 6 Nations title.
But the men in red came up short in last year’s encounter with the old enemy. England led 20-15 at half-time, thanks to tries from Danny Care and Luther Burrell and Owen Farrell secured a 29-18 victory with three second-half penalties.
Any England plans to showcase a more expansive style of rugby will have been shelved in the last few days and it will be all hands to the pump in the hope of somehow keeping a full-strength Wales at bay.
But with so many enforced changes, particularly amongst the forwards, that looks like being a hopeless task. Back the home side to gain revenge for last year’s defeat at 4/7 in the Match Betting market.