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Wales set for arm wrestle in Championship decider

WALES travel up the M4 looking to achieve the rare feat of a second victory over England at Twickenham in the space of six months.

The Welsh went 20 years without a victory in London, with the years between 1988 and 2008 signifying English dominance at their London home.

However, the tide has turned somewhat in recent seasons, with Wales having triumphed three times at Twickenham during the Gatland era.

Saturday’s meeting between the two old foes takes on extra significance, with the clash effectively a championship decider.

Wales will need to bring their strike runners into the game

Wales will need to bring their strike runners into the game

 

The biggest difference between Gatland’s side and Welsh sides of yesteryear is the physicality they possess across the board.

It is very rare to see an England side without a strong pack, with the Welsh fully aware that they will have to stop the old enemy on the gain-line if they are to triumph.

England, under the guidance of Australian Eddie Jones, have made more metres (1,144) than any other side in the Championship and have made 260 carries.

The challenge for the Welsh pack, and in particular their back-row, is obvious; win the collisions and they will likely win the game.

The first battle that Wales must win is in the scrum with Eddie Jones claiming that the visitors scrummage illegally.

The setting of Saturday's Championship decider

The setting of Saturday’s Championship decider

 

Powerful tight-head prop Samson Lee will have a crucial role to play because if Joe Marler is forced to scrummage straight then Lee will likely gain the upper-hand as he is the stronger scrummager.

Despite calls for the return of Justin Tipuric, it was a no-brainer to revert to defensive lynchpin Dan Lydiate.

Lydiate will have a crucial role to play in halting destructive ball carrier Billy Vunipola, with Wales aware that if they can isolate the English ball carriers it will allow Warburton gain the upper hand on the floor.

However, gaining parity alone may not be enough, as Wales will need to exploit space far better than they have done in recent weeks.

Realistically, the two sides are evenly matched, with the championship likely to be decided by the smallest of margins.

The side that controls the key moments will ultimately be the side that lifts the Six Nations Championship.

 

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