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Will Greenwood's Six Nations blog

My England v Wales preview

24 Feb 12 09:30
Warren Gatland was using reverse psychology when he spoke earlier this week of Wales' many defeats at Twickenham over the last two decades. I played in an England team that didn't lose at home for over four years so, just as it might be difficult for the Welsh to visualise winning at Twickenham, it's weird for me to see the Red Rose as 2.66 outsiders on their own patch.

Of all the home nations, I enjoyed beating Wales most. Stuart Lancaster's young team are in for a serious test on Saturday but I'd give anything for another crack at the Dragon. There's plenty that I admire about this Welsh team and, although the picture is skewed by France's postponement in round two, Wales have so far been the top Six Nations performers.

England are building confidence and gelling as a unit but Wales are on their way to becoming the finished article. After the controversial end to their World Cup campaign they could have become embittered and allowed their momentum to fizzle out. But they've got stronger and their formidable squad approach every match as though it's the final that might have been.

The return of Sam Warburton adds stealth and guile to Wales' supremely well-balanced back row. Lock Alun Wyn Jones will be a huge presence in the line-out so England debutant Geoff Parling is set for a tough introduction to Six Nations rugby. New fly-half Owen Farrell has been deservedly praised for his kicking but Wales will be able to rely on the equally unflappable Leigh Halfpenny.

Charlie Hodgson took his tries well against Scotland and Italy and his injury is a blow. However, Manu Tuilagi looked good returning for Leciester last week and he gives England extra penetration in midfield, a gain line they have so far lacked. I'm looking forward to seeing how he combines with Bradley Barritt.

To state the bleeding obvious, this is a really tough one to call. It's a pivotal match for both teams: if England win, they go to Paris with their chances of retaining the championship still alive. After two narrow away victories they could be due a comprehensive win. You always feel a big performance is around the corner but, then again, we said that at the World Cup and it never arrived. If Wales triumph at Twickenham, they only have to beat Italy to set up a likely Grand Slam showdown against France in Cardiff.

So where to put my money? At the odds available, and with a packed Twickenham behind them for the first time this year, I'm going to back England. Their come from behind show in Rome made us a pretty penny so Wales/England in the half-time/full-time market gets the nod. If either bet comes in, I'll be celebrating a great result with big winnings.

Recommended Bets
1pt Back England @ 2.66
1pt Back Wales/England in the Half-time/Full-time market 9.0


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