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Six Nations: England vs Wales preview

Round two of the Six Nations is firmly upon us, and one of the sports oldest rivalries takes centre stage.

Round two of the Six Nations is firmly upon us, and one of the sports oldest rivalries takes centre stage.

Here is our preview for the latest clash between England and Wales:

England

2023 Summer Test, Twickenham, London 12/8/2023 England vs Wales Englands George Ford and Ollie Lawrence celebrate with try scorer Maro Itoje George Ford and Ollie Lawrence celebrate with try scorer Maro Itoje 12/8/2023 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxIRLxFRAxNZL Copyright: x INPHO/JamesxCrombiex JWEI5091

The new-look England might have looked a tad clunky last week, but there’s no better way of starting a new era than with a win.

The game against Italy was the first proper test of the new defensive system under Felix Jones. The former Springboks coach has implemented blitz defence-which is somewhat reminiscent of the Exeter Chiefs new system-and whilst it was unpicked early the players settled into it as the game went on, and this will cause Wales issues this week.

England also displayed more attacking intent, and whilst they didn’t do this perfectly they will only grow into this style as the tournament progresses.

A huge factor that could help the new systems is Steve Borthwick’s decision to name an unchanged 23-man squad this weekend.

Joe Marler, new skipper Jamie George and Will Stuart were solid in the scrum last week, and see themselves retained in the squad. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum start in the second-row, and will look to continue their blossoming relationship there. Last week’s Man of the Match Ethan Roots again links up with Sam Underhill and Ben Earl in the back-row.

In the backs, Alex Mitchell and George Ford start at nine and 10. Fraser Dingwall had a solid debut last week, and he again finds himself named alongside Henry Slade in the centres. Tommy Freeman was a standout for England last week, and he again features alongside Elliot Daly and Freddie Steward in the back three.

There is also some strength on the bench, as Theo Dan, Ellis Genge and Fin Smith again keep their spots. Danny Care is also named as a sub, and could win his 98th cap.

England team in full: Steward, Freeman, Slade, Dingwall, Daly, Ford, Mitchell, Marler, George (capt), Stuart, Itoje, Chessum, Roots, Underhill, Earl

Replacements: Dan, Genge, Cole, Coles, Cunningham-South, Care, Smith, Feyi-Waboso

Wales

2023 Summer Nations Series, Twickenham, London 12/8/2023 England vs Wales Wales Tomos Williams Tomos Williams celebrates after scoring a try with teammates 12/8/2023 PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUKxIRLxFRAxNZL Copyright: x INPHO/JamesxCrombiex JKPW9416

Twickenham has not been a happy hunting ground for Wales in recent years.

The Welsh haven’t won at the home of English rugby since their shock 2015 World Cup win, however their second-half comeback against Scotland should give them plenty of hope.

The performance in the second 40 showed Wales can play with real attacking intent, and also hammered home how dangerous they can be with ball in hand. Players like Rio Dyer, Aaron Wainwright and Cameron Winnett were all fantastic going forward and really propelled Wales forward.

This second-half display has also led to a mass overhaul of the team, as Warren Gatland makes seven changes to the team that took on Scotland last week.

Cameron Winnett again starts at full-back after a solid debut against Scotland, and he is again joined by Josh Adams and Rio Dyer in the back three.

George North makes his 50th Six Nations appearance as he returns to the squad for Owen Watkin. North will rekindle his midfield partnership with Nick Tompkins this weekend.

Ioan Lloyd and Tomos Williams made an impact off the bench last week, and Gatland has rewarded them with a place in the starting 15.

In the pack, Gatland has named a fully changed front-row of Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee and Keiron Assiratti. Newly named captain Dafydd Jenkins again starts alongside Adam Beard in the second-row, with Alex Mann, Tommy Reffell and Aaron Wainwright completing the pack.

Corey Domachowski, Will Rowlands, Taine Basham and Mason Grady are the headline names on a strong bench.

Wales team in full: Winnett, Adams, North, Tompkins, Dyer, Lloyd, Williams, Thomas, Dee, Assiratti, Jenkins (C), Beard, Mann, Reffell, Wainwright

Replacements: Elias, Domachowski, Griffin, Rowlands, Basham, Hardy, Evans, Grady