Wales v England - Key Points

Can England head coach Eddie Jones engineer victory against Wales?
Can England head coach Eddie Jones engineer victory against Wales?
©PA

As England visit Cardiff on Saturday to continue their Six Nations title defence against Wales, we take a look at a few of the key points.

PETRIFIED ENGLISH

Eddie Jones has questioned why previous England teams have been "petrified" of playing in Cardiff, citing a 60 per cent loss record in the Welsh capital as evidence of a deep-rooted psychological flaw. Only on two of the last seven visits have they prevailed, but in Six Nations history the figure is a reasonably healthy five wins in 10 meetings. A 21-16 victory is the most recent memory of the Principality Stadium and while feverish Welsh fans generate the most charged atmosphere England face in the Six Nations, Jones has been undoubtedly been exaggerating the fear factor.

DIVERSION TACTICS

In drawing attention to previous English failures when travelling across the Severn, minds have been sharpened for Saturday's renewal of an age-old rivalry while diverting outside attention away from a faltering start to the Six Nations title defence against France. Guy Noves' men, who are showing signs of a revival under the former Toulouse coach, were dispatched 19-16 but it was comfortably the worst performance of the Jones era. The Australian has accepted responsibility and even apologised to his squad for the way in which he prepared them.

OPEN OR SHUT

Whether the Principality Stadium roof is open or closed is a talking point that reaches a crescendo when England are in town. A glance at recent history indicates why - in 2013 with it open they were thumped 30-3, two years later with it shut they had avenged one of the darkest days in Red Rose history. As coach of the visiting team Jones had the final say and having displayed jovial indifference to it all week, he revealed his hand on Thursday's 4.50pm deadline by demanding it be kept open.

HOWLEY'S WAY

Under their interim coach Rob Howley, Wales have been seeking to forge a new path away from the bulldozing approach of 'Warrenball' - the shock and awe rugby favoured by Warren Gatland. Gatland is on a sabbatical with the British and Irish Lions, but Howley's attempts to restore Welsh flair spluttered during an otherwise successful autumn, while Italy last weekend offered a poor barometer of their progress. How they perform against England will be fascinating.

RED ROSE ROOKIES

England's back row trio of Maro Itoje, Jack Clifford and Nathan Hughes is the best available to face Wales according to Jones, but it remains the most inexperienced loose trio in their Six Nations history. They have only four back row starts between them, exposing an Achilles heel that Wales will be hoping to exploit through the far more savvy Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty.

 

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