It was a terrific day for England fans a fortnight ago as they ended Ireland’s hopes of a Grand Slam in brutal fashion with their 24-12 victory.
That performance was more reminiscent of their World Cup form and we think they can be expected to bring their A-game against their biggest rivals in the sport.
Wales became the next side to lose to the unbeaten French this tournament when they were downed 27-23 at the Principality.
It was another impressive opening 40 minutes for Les Bleus as they went in at the break eight points ahead of the Welsh, though that now means the men in red have gone in behind at half time in five of their six outings since the World Cup group stages.
Those six games include four full time defeats at the hands of South Africa, New Zealand, Ireland and France as their only victories came over the considerably weaker Italians and a pre reformed 14-man French side.
We doubt the Red Roses are going to be far off the level those sides if their performance against the Irish is anything to go by, and like the bookies, we see this as a fairly one-sided affair. However, the 12-point handicap line looks a little on the large side, even if this game is at the ‘home of rugby’.
Only twice in 15 meetings between the two since 2011 have Wales failed to cover that mark against their rivals and although both of those came in two of their last three at Twickenham, the maximum deficit was just 14 points, both of which came as warm up games and in a competitive fixture we can’t see this being a walkover.
1st Half Handicap England -5.5 at
That would make for a very tasty bet at evens for Wales to cover the handicap line, but we have our reserves given the injury sustained by Dan Biggar at the weekend.
Biggar joins all of Rhys Patchell, Owen Williams and Gareth Anscombe on the sidelines, leaving Wayne Pivac with a selection headache at fly half, with the most likely options being either Jarrod Evans or Sam Davies.
No Mako Vunipola again for Eddie Jones won’t be too concerning given their performance against Ireland, while he’s called upon both World Cup finalist players Anthony Watson and Mark Wilson for this match.
With that in mind, we’d rather avoid the outright or full time handicap and instead look at the hosts to get off to a quick start.
Indeed, England have covered the 6.5 point half time handicap line in 11 of their 15 clashes with Wales at Twickenham since 2000, including four of five since 2015 being by seven or more and that looks the way to go again given their respective forms.
Moreover, against all teams, the hosts have been winning after 40 minutes in all six of their matches here since the start of last year, coming against France, Italy, Scotland, Wales themselves and Ireland twice, with the minimum margin being a huge 12 points.
ROUND THREE HIGHLIGHTS
ENGLAND V WALES TEAMS
England: 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Tom Curry, 7 Mark Wilson, 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Charlie Ewels, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Willi Heinz, 23 Henry Slade.
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Josh Navidi, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Aaron Shingler, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Johnny McNicholl.
ODDS CORRECT AS OF 14:30, 06/03/2020 BUT ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE!
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