Jones and Gatland set stage for fiery England-Wales clash
Jones and Gatland set stage for fiery England-Wales clash
Gareth Dyer's rugby column
11 February, 2018, 05:19
Five of the last seven Six Nations matches between these sides have been decided by the margin of a converted try or less, with the last three being won by England by five (twice) or four points.
Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones has played down England's attempts to pile the pressure on fly-half Rhys Patchell, joking that he will have words with "Uncle Eddie" after Saturday's Six Nations showdown at Twickenham.
But with under twenty minutes to go, Wales broke through the English defence with the score at 12-3 and stormed towards the try-line.
15 Mike Brown (Harlequins 65 caps).
Wales' 34-7 victory over Scotland rightly turned heads as the home side showcased plenty of running rugby.
Wales named an unchanged starting XV for Saturday's game.
Across the park, regional partnerships and combinations are being transferred onto the global stage and trusted to flourish in the Test arena, with Alun Wyn Jones providing the leadership from the engine room.
Wales will not be happy with the result, nor the TMO's part in it, but there is plenty to work with as they prepare for a trip to Ireland when the Six Nations resumes in a fortnight.
Leigh Halfpenny's late withdrawal ensured that the contingent hailing from the Pro12 champions had been reduced to nine yet nonetheless it was another chance to show how close the region could get to a team supposedly building towards a second World Cup crown in 2019.
Owen Farrell and Halfpenny traded penalties in the third quarter before Farrell cut the deficit to two points (16-14) with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Farrell's pinpoint punt for May's opener was pretty special but Joe Launchbury's assist for England's second was even better.
So what better way to derail his and Wales's preparation than by heaping pressure onto the 24-year-old and shining the spotlight on him?
England coach Eddie Jones said on Thursday that his near namesake had been "right out of order", adding he had raised the issue with World Rugby. Following the disappointing loss to Wales last weekend, captain Lisa Martin has been moved to fly-half from centre and Rachel Malcom has made the transition from hooker to blindside flanker for round two.
They've got to get the ball wide and Patchell hasn't played much Test match rugby. He hasn't got a lot of experience inside or outside him. Scotland couldn't cope with the expectation, and now he's got to cope with the expectation of playing well.
We had a very amusing moment in the changing rooms the other day; we were playing music and I put "Mysterious Girl" on and asked Ellie [Kildunne] who sang it and she said Bob Marley. The more I practise the luckier I get as Gary Player used to say.
"We're not intimidated by the Twickenham factor at all, and there's a lot of guys in the squad that will go there with a lot of confidence", Gatland says.
Having lost 55-0 against France in La Rochelle past year, Scotland can only improve.
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