Either England or Wales will lose their 100% record in this year’s 6 Nations tournament when they go head to head on Saturday at Twickenham.
England have so far recorded scrappy wins over Scotland and Italy that haven’t exactly added credibility to claims that they have moved on from their World Cup debacle last year, although in both games they have demonstrated no shortage of resilience and bravery for a side containing a host of players in the infancy of their international career.
Wales meanwhile edged a thrilling encounter against Ireland in their first game as Leigh Halfpenny landed a dramatic last-gasp penalty to secure the win for his country, while Warren Gatland’s side saw off a spirited Scotland side to make it back to back wins two weeks ago.
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Wales go into the game as favourites, and will be boosted by the return of Sam Warburton and George North who have both overcome injury to make their way into the starting line-up, while Ken Owens is also given the nod for his first start for his country.
England make four changes to the side that beat Italy, with Manu Tuilagi, Lee Dickson, Ben Morgan and Geoff Parling coming into the side, while Charlie Hodgson misses out through injury, Tom Palmer drops out of the side altogether and Ben Youngs and Phil Dowson drop down to the bench.
In Saturday’s other game Ireland will look to ensure there is no embarrassing slip-ups when they go up against Italy at the Aviva Stadium having never tasted defeat against the Azzurri since they entered the 6 Nations in 2000.
They came close last year but narrowly missed out thanks to a last-gasp Ronan O’Gara drop goal, and they appear no closer to bridging the gap between them and the big boys having lost both of their games against France and England so far.
Ireland will be without Brian O’Driscoll once more while Italy have made four changes for the game, with Alberto Sgarbi, Michele Rizzo, Lorenzo Cittadini and Tobias Botes stepping into the side, while Castrogiovanni is out having limped off against England.
Sunday’s game sees Scotland hoping to end their 6 Nations frustration against France in Edinburgh.
Andy Robinson’s men have lost both their games against England and Wales so far where perhaps their performance warranted more, and they’ll look to release their pent up frustrations against a France side who haven’t played since their opening encounter against Italy.
Scotland have beaten France just once in the 6 Nations, back in 2006 at Murrayfield, and while Les Blues are unchanged from that game, Scotland make four changes with Stuart, John Barclay, Graeme Morrison and Mike Blair called up while Sean Lamont moves from inside to outside centre and Rory Lamont from full-back to the right wing.