Simon Mail previews the second weekend of the Six Nations with Grand Slam champions England facing a test of their unbeaten run in Wales...
"England have a poor record in Wales which suggests this will prove a difficult hurdle for the side to maintain their winning run. The visitors have won just two of their last seven clashes in Wales and suffered a crushing 30-3 defeat four years ago as England missed out on both the Grand Slam and the title."
Wales v England
Live on BBC One
The game of the weekend takes place in Cardiff with Wales hosting England. Both sides got off to winning starts in the tournament even if their performances did not convince at times. This looks a potentially crucial showdown, even at this early stage, after Ireland slipped up in Scotland. The winners of this clash will be in a strong position to go on to win the title.
Wales found it tough going in Italy with their 33-7 victory a flattering scoreline. The visitors trailed 7-3 at the break and took advantage of a tiring Italy during the second half. Tries from Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams punished the hosts while they were down to 14 men and George North also scored. But the side missed out on a bonus-point after failing to add a fourth try.
The hosts have been boosted after North and fly-half Dan Biggar were named in the latest side despite suffering injuries in Italy. Wales have made two changes from their opening win with props Rob Evans and Tomas Francis brought in for Nicky Smith and Samson Lee. But Rob Howley's side will have to play with the roof open after England decided against shutting it.
England failed to impress during their opening match of the competition but still found a way to defeat France 19-16 at Twickenham. Eddie Jones' side looked a shadow of the side which won the Grand Slam last season but their strength from the bench made the difference with Ben Te'o crossing the line for the decisive try.
The side may have failed to convince last weekend but still set a new record of 15 successive victories. It has been an extraordinary turnaround under Jones, since taking charge, with the coach yet to taste defeat with England. The Australian has instilled a winning mentality in the team and their belief again shone through against France, even when trailing in the closing stages.
The visitors make two changes to the side which edged past France last weekend. Jack Clifford is handed only his second start for England, in place of Tom Wood as open-side flanker, in a relatively inexperienced back row featuring Maro Itoje and Nathan Hughes. The other change sees wing Jack Nowell preferred to Jonny May.
England have a poor record in Wales which suggests this will prove a difficult hurdle for the side to maintain their winning run. The visitors have won just two of their last seven clashes in Wales and suffered a crushing 30-3 defeat four years ago as England missed out on both the Grand Slam and the title. Of course this side is in better shape but it does prove this fixture has been a struggle for them in recent years.
Wales are a tempting price in the match market at 2.942/1 but it may be better to back them with a four-point handicap advantage with Betfair offering top price on this market. England only won by three points in their opener and this could be similarly tight. It would be no surprise if this came down to a few points but the hosts look worth siding with especially considering their home record against this weekend's opponents.
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