After an unconvincing 18-0 victory over Georgia, Wales ended their run of six straight defeats dating back to February this year. That puts them in third place in Pool A, level on points with Ireland, but we don’t imagine that will last too long with the Welsh up against current pool leaders England.
The Red Roses have already secured the top spot of this pool after two convincing victories over both the Georgians and the Irish, building some serious momentum since their disappointing defeat in Paris nine months ago.
They’ve eased past all of Scotland, Wales, Italy, and Ireland twice since then, and this looks like a clash of two teams going in very different directions.
Wayne Pivac opted to give a few of the more inexperienced members of the Welsh squad a chance in their average at best performance last weekend against Georgia.
The likes of captain Alun Wyn Jones and Dan Biggar return to the side for this one, but injuries to key players Justin Tipuric and Liam Williams means they won’t be available. To further their injury worries, Ross Moriarty and Josh Navidi are both unavailable too.
England -14 Point Handicap
Eddie Jones’ men hold an advantageous six wins from their eight meetings with Wales since the Australians arrival in the English dugout in November 2015. Although they’ve lost both the last two in Wales, each of those came at Principality Stadium with Warren Gatland in charge, and the current Welsh outfit is nowhere near that standard at the minute.
Indeed, the last of those came against Gatland’s record-breaking team in the midst of a 14-straight game winning run, and Pivac certainly hasn’t picked up from where he left off.
Since returning from the Covid-19 break back in October, the hosts lost to Scotland in their home country for the first time since 2002, while both France and Ireland beat them by 17 and 23 points, respectively.
Their sole victory since the return from the pandemic came last time out against Georgia, and although they put out an inexperienced side, you’d still expect them to put in a better performance. That’s nowhere near the standard needed to take on the second-best team in the world.
Indeed, England beat the Georgians by 40 points and Ireland by 11, and we’re struggling to see how the hosts will even cover the current handicap line of 14 points.
Jones has chosen to go back to the George Ford and Owen Farrell axis that worked so well for them at the World Cup last year, and with them at very near their strongest team against a depleted Dragons outfit, we’d be surprised if they didn’t blow them off the park.