Wales v England: Six Nations champions to grind out victory in Cardiff

England wing Jonny May
Jonny May produces a spectacular finish during England's win over Italy

England face a trip to unbeaten Wales in the third round of the Six Nations and Simon Mail thinks the defending champions will claim back-to-back wins...

"Wales have unleashed a new star this year with Louis Rees-Zammit enjoying an exceptional start to the Six Nations. The explosive wing scored in the win over Ireland and was outstanding in Scotland as he crossed the line twice."

Wales v England
Saturday, 16:45
Live on BBC One

England respond after shock defeat

England's Six Nations title defence got off to a shocking start but Eddie Jones' side responded with a win to keep themselves in the running. But England will have to claim a victory in Wales if they are to stay in contention and they will come up against a rejuvenated team bidding to land an unexpected Triple Crown.

The pre-tournament favourites were humbled in their opener as the hosts slumped to defeat against Scotland at Twickenham.

England were comprehensively outplayed by their rivals and deserved the criticism they faced after a dire performance.

Their second match was always likely to be a comfortable victory and England scored six tries in their 41-18 home win over Italy. Anthony Watson scored twice and Jonny May produced a stunning finish in the corner as England belatedly launched their title bid.

Jones makes just two changes to the side which defeated Italy with hooker Jamie George replacing Luke Cowan-Dickie. Mark Wilson comes in for the injured Courtney Lawes in an enforced change for the champions. Full-back Elliot Daly wins his 50th cap as England stick with the same backline. Uncapped forward George Martin is in line for his debut from off the bench.

Wales unlikely contenders after opening wins

Wales came into this season's Six Nations with low expectations after a forgettable 2020. Wayne Pivac's first year in charge was a disappointment as Wales claimed only one victory in the tournament to finish second bottom. But it has been a different story so far this season, with Wales claiming back-to-back victories, albeit with fortune favouring their side.

Both of their victories have seen them play against a team reduced to 14 men with Peter O'Mahony sent off for Ireland. Wales still made hard work of it with the hosts edging to a 21-16 victory after trailing at half-time. Wales were also second best to Scotland for long spells at Murrayfield in their last game but Zander Fagerson's red card proved costly as the visitors ground out a 25-24 win.

wyn jones.jpg

George North returns from injury to win his 100th cap for Wales as he starts at outside centre alongside the fit again Jonathan Davies. Scrum-half Kieran Hardy is handed his first Six Nations start ahead of Gareth Davies. Wing Josh Adams returns from suspension to bolster the hosts' attack with Liam Williams moving to full-back.

Rees-Zammit can continue scoring streak

Wales have unleashed a new star this year with Louis Rees-Zammit enjoying an exceptional start to the Six Nations. The explosive wing scored in the win over Ireland and was outstanding in Scotland as he crossed the line twice. His second try was a brilliant solo effort as he chipped over the defence and raced onto the ball to score. Rees-Zammit is a huge threat for the hosts with his electrifying pace and looks generously priced at 2/1 to score this weekend against England.

England won both matches against Wales last season but both were tight affairs. The hosts won 33-30 at Twickenham in the Six Nations and also claimed a 24-13 away victory in November's Autumn Nations Cup contest.

England are rightfully favourites and should be able to overcome Wales if they can keep all their players on the pitch. Another close contest is expected though and a win for England by up to 12 points looks the most likely outcome at 17/10.

Follow Simon's bets on Twitter @watfordtipster

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