The age-old Anglo-Welsh rivalry will be re-ignited at Twickenham this weekend (Saturday 16:45) and Gatland’s side will be determined to continue the momentum from their second half performance vs Scotland. As always, our ace Rugby Union tipster Alex Cox @UKRugbybets is back with his preview and betting predictions.
England – whilst not setting the world alight – secured an important victory in Rome last weekend. They showed some positive signs at times but are by no means the finished article yet.
Much has been said about Felix Jones’ new defensive system being implemented, although it will take time for it to be firing on all cylinders. There were however, some exciting performances from newbies Ethan Roots and Tommy Freeman vs Italy and English fans will be hoping to see more of the same in South-West London on Saturday afternoon.
Although they came up just short in Cardiff last week, there were plenty of positive from Wales’ second half performance to carry over to this week. They played without fear and with a high tempo that Scotland struggled with.
There is an evident uncertainty as to whether Wales can play in this style in a tight contest or whether we only saw it once they felt they had nothing to lose. Tomos Williams and Ioan Lloyd were key during that second half and with Gatland picking both to start this week, Welsh fans will be hoping for more of the same.
In recent history, this fixture has been closely contested. In fact the plus handicap has arrived in the last 13 matches in the Six Nations, dating back to 2010 when England won by 13 at Twickenham. I’m expecting this trend to continue this weekend and for Wales to keep this game close.
For the first time since 2019, England have named an unchanged starting XV. Borthwick clearly sees value in giving this group more playing minutes together and building a foundation with his new-look side. The only change to the bench is that Genge replaces Obano, after Genge pulled out of the squad last week with a foot injury.
England will want to get on top at set-piece and have stuck with Marler and Stuart up-front to give them that platform at the scrum. Mitchell and Ford are responsible for managing the game again, with Danny Care and Fin Smith waiting in the wings to add an impact off the bench in the final quarter.
Gatland has gone the other direction, and has made seven changes to last week. Tomos Williams and Ioan Lloyd are promoted from the bench and will be the starting halfbacks as Costelow was injured last week. George North is fit to play and take the 13 shirt. The entire front row is changed and will comprise of Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee and Keiron Assiratti. And finally Alex Mann – who made a significant impact from the bench last week – is rewarded with a First Test start for Wales, as he slots onto the Flank instead of Botham.
The back-row battle will be hotly contested and Wales need similar performances from Wainwright and Reffell to gain a foothold in the game. Cameron Winnett will need some better help from Dyer and Adams to marshal the back-field vs England, as Finn Russell found open spaces time and again last week.
Wales +11.5 Handicap @ 5/6
This rivalry means a significant amount to each side meaning we can expect a physical, passionate match. On paper, England should win this contest. However, time after time, Wales seem to thrive with the underdog status and punch above their weight.
They will face a stern English test at HQ but I believe the Welsh side can cause problems and frustrate English momentum to keep this a close game. Italy exposed chinks in England’s defensive armour and Wales will do the same this week to cover the +11.5 handicap.
Tomos Williams first try @ 16/1
As already mentioned, Williams is a brilliant scrum half and runs support lines all day – look for him to get an early try at a big price of 16/1.
Betfred are also running their famed Double Delight Try Scorer Offer on this match, meaning if Williams does score the first try and then goes on to score a 2nd, you will be paid at double the odds (32/1!)
You can read all Alex's Rugby Union Betting Tips at our Insights hub.