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England v Wales: Head to head preview

15 March 2013

  • Find out who, where and when to watch England v Wales this weekend
  • All the facts and stats you need to know ahead of the clash at the Millennium Stadium

It’s been six weeks since England beat Scotland in their opening match of the RBS Six Nations and now after four wins they head to Cardiff with a shot at their first Grand Slam since 2003. Wales can still spoil the party and take the title themselves but if they are to do so then they will have to win key battles at the breakdown and set piece and find a way through the solid English defence. It’s set to be a fiery encounter at the Millennium Stadium, so here are all the vital stats and facts ahead of the clash.

When? Saturday, March 16
Where? Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off? 1700hrs

How to keep up with the action

  • Live on BBC One from 4.30pm
  • Live commentary on BBC 5 live Sports Extra and online
  • Live text commentary on the free RFU iPhone app (search the app store for Official RFU)
  • Live score updates from @Official_RFU on Twitter
  • Match report, post-match interviews and highlights on RFU.com

The teams

England

15 Alex Goode (Saracens); 14 Chris Ashton (Saracens); 13 Brad Barritt (Saracens); 12 Manusamoa Tuilagi (Leicester Tigers); 11 Mike Brown (Harlequins); 10 Owen Farrell (Saracens); 9 Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers); 1 Joe Marler (Harlequins); 2 Tom Youngs (Leicester Tigers); 3 Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers); 4 Joe Launchbury (London Wasps); 5 Geoff Parling (Leicester Tigers); 6 Tom Croft (Leicester Tigers); 7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins); 8 Tom Wood (Northampton)

Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley (Northampton); 17 David Wilson (Bath); 18 Mako Vunipola (Saracens); 19 Courtney Lawes (Northampton); 20 James Haskell (London Wasps); 21 Danny Care (Harlequins); 22 Toby Flood (Leicester Tigers); 23 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)

Wales

15 Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); 14 Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues); 13 Jonathan Davies (Scarlets); 12 Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues); 11 George North (Scarlets); 10 Dan Biggar (Ospreys); 9 Mike Phillips (Bayonne); 1 Gethin Jenkins (Toulon) captain; 2 Richard Hibbard (Ospreys); 3 Adam Jones (Ospreys); 4 Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys); 5 Ian Evans (Ospreys); 6 Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues); 7 Justin Tipuric (Ospreys); 8 Toby Faletau (Dragons)

Replacements: 16 Ken Owens (Scarlets); 17 Paul James (Bath); 18 Scott Andrews (Cardiff Blues); 19 Andrew Coombs (Dragons); 20 Aaron Shingler (Scarlets); 21 Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues); 22 James Hook Perpignan); 23 Scott Williams (Scarlets)

What the coaches say:

Tom Croft tackles in the team's 2012 clash with Wales

Photo Credit: Getty Images

England coach Stuart Lancaster:

“As a whole squad we have come a long way through the QBE series and the Six Nations and we want to finish the job on what will be a fantastic occasion in Cardiff. Every single player, whether they are in the 23 or not this Saturday, has contributed to getting us in this position and they should be proud of that.

“As coaches we have had to make some tough calls but this is a squad effort and I know those not involved will, like the whole nation, be behind us come 5 o’clock.”

Wales coach Rob Howley:

“The players have worked very hard to put themselves in this position for Saturday, with three hard fought victories on the road.”

“Gethin comes back in and will captain the side and his leadership will be invaluable. Saturday is a big finale for the tournament but we have a very experienced squad, who have been in this position before, that have played in big games and that will be important come kick-off.”

Head to head

  • Played 123, England won 56, Wales 55, drawn 12
  • Highest score – England 62-5 in 2007, Wales 34-21 in 1967
  • Biggest win – England 62-5 in 2007, Wales 25-0 in 1905

Previous four meetings

  • 2010 – England 30-17 Wales
  • 2011 – England 26-19 Wales
  • 2011 – Wales 19-9 England
  • 2012 – England 12-19 Wales
Owen Farrell chips over the top for Chris Ashton

Photo Credit: Getty Images

England key facts

  • IRB world ranking: 4th
  • Most capped player in history: Jason Leonard (114 caps, 1990-2004)
  • Most capped player in the squad: Toby Flood (56 caps, 2005-2013)
  • Most consecutive test wins: 14 (2002 to 2003)

Wales key facts

  • IRB world ranking: 5th
  • Most capped player in history: Stephen M Jones (104 caps, 1998-2011)
  • Most capped player in squad: Gethin Jenkins (43 caps, 2002-2013)
  • Most consecutive test wins: 11 (1907-10)

The vital stats

  • Out of their last nine RBS 6 Nations games Wales have lost just one, against Ireland in the opening round of this year’s tournament.
  • The Welsh have not lost back-to-back games at the Millennium Stadium since 2006.
  • England have only lost once in their previous nine RBS 6 Nations games, when they were beaten 12-19 by Wales last year.
  • In order to take the title, Wales must beat England by seven points and hope England do not outscore them by two tries in order to take their second title in a row.
  • England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster has never lost an away match in the RBS 6 Nations.
  • England have only won one grand slam match up in their last five. The win over Ireland in 2003 was the last time they won a round five match away from home.  
Stuart Lancaster watches on in training

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Keys To The Game

The IBM TryTracker live stats engine includes the ‘Keys to the Game’, which predict three crucial areas of performance specific to each team ahead of match day. If a side hits their target in these aspects of their game they will significantly increase their chances of victory.

England keys

  • Attempt more than 9 offloads
  • More than 52% of carries from backs
  • Achieve a tackle success rate greater than 91%

England were indecisive in their finishing against the Azzurri, squandering try-scoring opportunities and falling back on the boot of Toby Flood to grab the win. The team did manipulate the Italian defence, creating space out wide, but against Wales they will need to finish every opportunity they get. Keeping the ball with the forwards will not be the key against the Welsh either, with TryTracker predicting that if the backs make 52% of the carries they stand a better chance of victory. Players like Manu Tuilagi will be utilised to crash over the gain line, but supporting runners will also be as important with a target of 9 offloads.

Wales

  • Win more than 86% of set pieces
  • Make more than 6.2 metres per carry in the backs
  • Force more than 15 turnovers

A major battleground will be in the backs on Saturday with TryTracker giving Wales a target of 6.2 metres per carry. However, it will be up to the forwards to provide the back line with possession, and the set piece is where that platform will be set. If the Welsh win more than 86% of set pieces, they will supply their backs with the ball they need to do the damage. A target of 15 turnovers means that the back row of Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau and Justin Tipuric will be busy taking on England at the breakdown