After two frantic opening weekends the Six Nations is back for round three, which includes a potential title and Grand Slam deciding fixture on Saturday.
Wales v England on Saturday at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff Wales.
A title and deciding encounter between these two long standing arch rugby rivals. Both are two wins from two, both with big chances of achieving a Six Nations Grand Slam win in 2019.
However they come into this one in differing form. Wales are on their best winning run since in 1910, and victory on Saturday will take them to a record breaking 11 straight wins. However they have been poor in their opening two victories against France and Italy and were very unfortunate to beat the former even though they had a B team out which says a lot for Italy.
After a terrible 2018 up until November, England are now the form Northern Hemisphere team after stunning Ireland in the opening round and hammering a sorry France.
England have the varied, dangerous attack; Wales have the stubborn dogged, strong defence, it will be so intriguing to see which one cracks under the pressure.
Eddie Jones will target another quick start – England have scored tries within the opening five minutes in their last five Test matches. Meanwhile Wales have started slowly in their first two games. So England will go all guns blazing to get a good lead early and quieten the passionate home welsh fans. The longer Wales are in this game the louder those fans will get and the hard it will become for the Red Rose.
For Wales, we are still waiting to see their best form and a complete, clear game plan – Saturday is when both must be delivered. A lot will depend on who is selected at fly half.
Gareth Anscombe the son of ex kiwi Canadian men’s coach is Warren Gatland’s favourite and delivers a greater variety of game plan and creativity. Dan Biggar is Mr Reliable and Mr Big Game as he brings an excellent kicking game from both hand and tee.
Against France Gatland started with Anscombe, then brought Biggar on when it was clear the game needed a controlled kicking direction. I wonder if this time it will be swapped around. Biggar, if fit, to start and guide Wales around the park with his boot, and offering a more reliable boot to get points on the board in a potentially close, nervy game. Then bring Anscombe on if Wales need creativity against tiring English legs.
So I think we will see a big aerial battle here, especially in the first half. Both half back pairing’s will put the ball high for their back three to chase. These are two of the best teams in the world as this tactic, with May, Nowell and Daly England’s back three and North, Williams and Adams there for Wales.
Whichever trio wins this battle will be a key factor in determining territory and ultimately the match winner.
My Prediction: Wales v England
Looking at England’s wins against Ireland in the opening round and hammering a poor France. England with their attack, excellent defence, big forwards and ability to score out wide with Jonny May have to be favourites to win. England to win.
Prediction: France v Scotland
It is hard to call, as Scotland are the better team and have so much positivity around them, while France are a total mess. The flip side is that France still have some outstanding and powerful players, and with Scotland lacking form away from Murrayfield and their inability to manage and control a game for 80 minutes opens the door for the home side.
I’m backing Scotland here to see it through over 80 minutes to continue their solid development, but don’t be surprise if France lead at stages in this one, but they have a habit of throwing away leads. Scotland win.