England v Wales: Stuttering champions to suffer another defeat at Twickenham

England wing Jonny May
England were too strong for Ireland in their last match at Twickenham

Simon Mail previews England's home game against Wales and thinks the holders will suffer a third defeat in the Six Nations...

"England have won their last four matches against Wales at Twickenham and appear well placed to extend this recent record with their opponents short of their best form."

England v Wales
Saturday, 16:45
Live on ITV

England still in contention for title

England made a miserable start to the Six Nations but Eddie Jones' side have responded strongly with back-to-back victories. France are in pole position for the title, after winning their first three matches, with England's final game in Italy postponed due to the coronavirus leaving the conclusion of this year's tournament up in the air.

A win at home to Wales this weekend may not even be enough but their recent victories have given valuable momentum. After a below par performance in defeat to France, England ground out a 13-6 win in Scotland in stormy conditions. A dominant display against Ireland resulted in a 24-12 victory with George Ford, Elliot Daly and Luke Cowan-Dickie scoring at Twickenham.

Flanker Mark Wilson and wing Anthony Watson make their first appearance since last year's World Cup. Wilson comes in with Sam Underhill ruled out of the match due to injury. Watson features in the backline with Jonathan Joseph left out of England's squad. Mako Vunipola has not been selected, as a health precaution, after travelling through Hong Kong last weekend.

Problems mounting for Pivac's Wales

Wales swept all before them last season with Warren Gatland leading the team to the Six Nations Grand Slam. But it has proved a tough act to follow for his successor Wayne Pivac, with Wales struggling to maintain their high standards. The departure of outstanding defence coach Shaun Edwards, who is now working with France, has been a major loss with the team conceding seven tries in their three matches.

After a gentle opening victory at home to Italy, it got significantly tougher and their 24-14 defeat in Ireland was a reality check for Pivac. Their hopes of defending the title were finished off by France after the 27-23 defeat in Cardiff. The hosts gave themselves too much to do, trailing 17-9 at half-time, with tries from Dillon Lewis and Dan Biggar unable to prevent a first home defeat in the competition for three years.

wales france.jpg

Taulupe Faletau drops down to the bench for Wales with Josh Navidi preferred at number eight for the game. Wing Liam Williams makes his return after a four-month injury layoff as he replaces Josh Adams after he was ruled out of the remainder of the competition. Fly-half Dan Biggar has been passed fit to play after recovering from a knee injury.

England have won their last four matches against Wales at Twickenham and appear well placed to extend this recent record with their opponents short of their best form. The last Six Nations clash in England resulted in a 12-6 home win two years ago and the hosts appear to hold the edge both in terms of their defence and attack.

Jones' side are warm favourites to claim another win this weekend with the handicap mark set at 11 points. England are fancied to secure a third successive victory although Wales could still offer some resistance. Four of the last five games between the teams have been settled by a single-figure margin which puts the handicap mark in doubt. Both of Wales' Six Nations defeats were by no more than ten points and England may have to settle for a relatively narrow success over the champions.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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