England v Wales talking points

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England and Wales collide in a seismic NatWest 6 Nations clash at Twickenham on Saturday that will put the winner in pole position for the title.

Here, Press Association Sport examines five talking points heading into the match.

RUGBYU England
England v Wales head-to-head (PA Graphics)

Patchell looks the part

Wales v Scotland – NatWest 6 Nations – Principality Stadium
Rhys Patchell has been the focus of Eddie Jones’ pre-match taunts (Nigel French/PA Wire)

England boss Eddie Jones has publicly queried whether Wales fly-half Patchell has “the bottle” for a high-octane occasion such as Saturday’s Twickenham showdown. But the gifted back has not been found wanting in his career so far, highlighted by him helping the Scarlets to PRO12 title glory last term and this season’s European Champions Cup quarter-finals.

Has Eddie gone too far?

Wales v Scotland – NatWest 6 Nations – Principality Stadium
Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones was another target of Red Rose head coach Jones (Paul Harding/PA Wire)

Having repeatedly placed the crosshairs over Patchell, Jones turned his attention to Alun Wyn Jones by accusing the Wales captain of attempting to intimidate referee Pascal Gauzere during last Saturday’s win over Scotland. World Rugby are satisfied that no line has been crossed, but it is a charge that some commentators have laid against Jones for singling out two individuals from the opposition for his mind games.

Twickenham pressure cooker

Wales Squad Announcement – Vale Resort
Warren Gatland aims to mastermind another Twickenham coup (Ben Birchall)

If England lose, Jones’ attempt to unsettle Wales will have backfired but the tactic is surely as much to test his own players as to sow the seed of doubt in the minds of Warren Gatland’s men. The Australian prefaced last autumn’s series by saying he wants to introduce “chaos in the house”, propelling his squad out of their comfort zone to steel them for the challenges in store at the 2019 World Cup. How they react to a Wales side seething at his taunts will give an insight into how they respond to pressure.

Twickenham factor unlikely to faze Wales

England are unbeaten at Twickenham under Jones and have also won their last 14 Six Nations Tests there. Wales, though, will not be daunted by the task ahead, having toppled England three times on home soil during Warren Gatland’s coaching reign – twice in the Six Nations and also claiming a dramatic 2015 World Cup pool win. England’s last Six Nations home defeat was six years ago – against Wales.

Backing up Scotland

Wales were magnificent as they overran Scotland 34-7 in Cardiff, launching their title quest with a conclusive performance despite the absence of a host of Test British and Irish Lions. It blew the Scots’ own pretensions of seizing England’s crown out of the water, but playing against the champions at Twickenham is a different proposition. Just how good is Gatland’s Scarlets-inspired Wales?

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