The second round of 2017’s 6 Nations rugby union action takes place this weekend, and Wales will be keen to remain at the top of the table and beat third-placed England tomorrow. So how has each team peformed so far and how ready are they for the Wales v. England match?
Wales v. England – Will the Welsh Still be the Team to Beat After This Weekend?
Despite the pre-tournament talk about the strength of the English, Scottish and Irish rugby union teams, it was the Welsh who were ahead of the pack at end of the first weekend, thanks to their 33-7 win against Italy.
The win came far from easily, however. By half-time, Wales, having struggled to deal with Sergio Parisse, were trailing behind their opponents by 7–3. Thankfully for Welsh fans, it was a different story in the second half, with Leigh Halfpenny racking up three penalties to give them a 12–7 lead.
When Andrea Lovotti was sent to the sin bin in the 59th minute, Jonathan Davies took advantage, scoring Wales’s first try of the match, and Halfpenny converted it to take them to 19-7. Converted tries from Liam Williams and George North sealed the deal for the Welsh, but they missed out on a bonus point by failing to score a fourth try, and left Rome knowing they still have work to do if they want to win the famous rugby trophy.
With just six days between their first and second matches, beating England will be a tough ask, but according to Alun Wyn Jones, the Welsh captain, his squad members are feeling positive.
“We are content with what we did on the weekend,” he told the BBC. “We will be buoyed by some of the character that we showed and also a little bit of frustrations we didn’t capitalise on the possession we had in the first-half and not getting the bonus point.”
Can England Steal the Win From Wales in Cardiff?
England were also the victors in their first tie of the 2017 6 Nations tournament, but it was a tougher battle than they would have liked. At half-time, the teams were level, with nine points each. A penalty from Owen Farrell took England into the lead in the 54th minute, but the fans’ relief was short-lived as, five minutes later, Lopez converted a Slimani try to put the French ahead by 16–12.
However, with just ten minutes to go, Ben Te’o scored England’s only try, which was ably converted by Farrell, providing Eddie Jones’ lads with their fifteenth consecutive win.
Speaking after the match, Jones told the BBC:
“I felt some players were still in their club mentality so that’s something we need to work on. We were disjointed in attack and we lacked urgency in defence,” he said.
He seemed upbeat about England’s forthcoming trip to the Principality Stadium when making his team announcement on Thursday, however. According to the Telegraph, he said:
“It’s been a great week of focused preparation and we can’t wait to play Wales. Playing Wales in Cardiff is one of the biggest games in world rugby and we’re excited.”
For some critics, a lack of experience in England’s back row could give the Welsh the edge, but with the Championship Trophy at stake, the English are sure to be fired up for tomorrow’s match.
Which team do you think will win this Saturday’s Wales v. England 6 Nations tie? Leave a comment, or let us know what you think on Facebook or Twitter.