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England v Wales preview: Hosts out for revenge after Cardiff upset

England and Wales do battle at Twickenham just a week after the Welsh stunned their rivals with a 20-9 victory on home soil in Cardiff.

Both teams were lacking plenty of big names but England were rated six-point favourites and led 9-6 after a tense first half. 

But Wales scored two unanswered tries after the break as England could not find a way through and failed to turn pressure into points. 

The Red Rose will be even more fired up for revenge in front of their fans.

WhatEngland v Wales
WhereTwickenham Stadium, London
When17:30, Saturday 12th August
How to watchAmazon Prime Video
OddsEngland 1/5, Draw 33/1, Wales 7/2 

England turn to trusted performers

England coach Steve Borthwick ran the rule over a few fringe players in last week’s first meeting in Cardiff, but has made 11 changes to his line-up for the return to Twickenham and there is much more of a first-team look to his selection.

Stalwarts Billy Vunipola, Joe Marler, Jamie George and Maro Itoje are included in the pack while Owen Farrell returns at fly-half, partnered by scrum-half Jack van Poortvliet, who gets the nod ahead of Leicester team-mate Ben Youngs.

Borthwick named his World Cup squad on Monday so this match looks to be far more about getting some playing time and cohesion into his group than weighing up his options.

A back three of Henry Arundell, Elliot Daly and Freddie Steward provides plenty of pace and flair for England, while the powerful Ollie Lawrence is selected at 12 to offer ball-carrying dynamism.

Hosts warm favourites

Wales famously came away from Twickenham with a victory in the pool stage of the 2015 World Cup which ultimately led to the tournament hosts making a shock early exit.

But that was their last victory on English soil and Wales have suffered defeat on their last six visits.

Two of those defeats were by a double-figure margin, but one was a World Cup warm-up in 2019 and the other a summer international. When the teams have met in the cauldron of the Six Nations the margins have tended to be tight - England have won the last four meetings by four, three, six and four points.

The handicap for Saturday’s game is 12 points, a margin England have surpassed just twice in the last 21 meetings at all venues.

A home win by one to 12 points is a 7/4 shot

Gatland rings changes for Wales

Wales coach Warren Gatland is yet to name his World Cup squad, and acknowledged that there may be a difference in mindset between the two teams, as the England players on the field at Twickenham will know they have made the cut while the Welsh players are still looking to catch the eye.

There are still some key injuries to deal with, key among them back-row forward Taulupe Faletau, but Gatland has a more experienced pack out this week, including props Gareth Thomas and Tomas Francis plus Dan Lydiate in the back row.

Tomos Williams and Owen Williams make up the half-back pairing with Dan Biggar on the bench, while hooker Dewi Lake captains the side in the continued absence of Ken Owens.

It’s another mix of untried combinations, but Gatland’s directive last week that Wales should go out and play their own game rather than go head-on with England physically paid off and the instructions may be the same.

World Cup drawing near

Defeat to Wales last week was a setback to England’s preparations, and they must look to set down a marker in this match before a difficult trip to Ireland next week and a final home clash with Fiji.

Wales of course have been boosted by that victory in Cardiff but round off their warm-ups next week against World Cup holders South Africa, so these are two demanding games back to back.

If both England and Wales win their World Cup pools they will go into opposite halves of the draw for the knockout stage. 

England are 4/11 to win Pool D ahead of Argentina, but that is no given in light of the Pumas’ strong summer showing and victory at Twickenham, while Wales are 2/1 second-favourites in Pool C behind Australia.

If one team should win their pool and the other finish second in theirs, the old rivals will go head to head in the quarter-finals.

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