Six Nations 2015: Wales v England preview

Will Jonathan Davies be smiling again come the final whistle?

When’s it on?

Six Nations 2015: Wales v England, 7.30pm BBC1 (kick-off 8.05pm)

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Preview

Stop moaning that Friday night is no time for rugby and get set for what could be the best Six Nations opener for years.

Wales smashed England the last time they travelled to Cardiff. England coach Stuart Lancaster arrived at the Millennium Stadium preparing for a Grand Slam and left with one of the most damaging defeats of his tenure, losing 30-3.

This was Welsh pundit Jonathan Davies’ face after the game.

So much for BBC bias.

Lancaster had his revenge in 2014, leading England to a 29 – 18 win. Luther Burrell did this in front of the Twickenham faithful.

But even captain Chris Robshaw admits playing away is a very different challenge.

“Playing away from home is always slightly different, especially in the cauldron of a stadium like the Millennium,” he said.

And whose job will it be to inspire the passionate Welsh crowd to back their team? Uhhh, DJ Spoony.

Yes, the former Radio 1 DJ has apparently created “a bespoke musical arrangement for the light show which will be revealed when the lights go down before the anthems and in the final moments before the rival rugby nations kick off at 8.05pm.”

What’s wrong with a few rounds of Delilah?

Wales coach Warren Gatland named his side a full 48 hours earlier than required, presumably for the benefit of the match programme-writers.

Battering winger George North returns to the side, while captain Sam Warburton will earn his 50th cap on Friday night.

England meanwhile have had to trust their strength in depth following a string of high-profile injuries, including fly half Owen Farrell, centre Brad Barritt and prop David Wilson.

England starting XV

Mike Brown, Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs, Joe Marler, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, David Attwood, George Kruis, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw (capt), Billy Vunipola.

Subs: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Kieran Brookes, Tom Croft, Nick Easter, Richard Wigglesworth, Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees

Wales starting XV

Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt, Taulupe Faletau.

Subs: Scott Baldwin, Paul James, Aaron Jarvis, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips, Rhys Priestland, Liam Williams

Pundit predictions

Jeremy Guscott “I think England will beat Wales. I hope they’ve learned a lesson from their Australia game in the Autumn. Their scrum is strong, their lineout efficient, they have a great driving maul and they can position themselves to attack. If they do that, I believe they can win in Wales. They don’t have to do too much more.”

Shane Williams “Defensively Wales were superb against South Africa. I do feel though that Wales have gone slightly one one-dimensional in attack.

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“Ireland and England are the frontrunners for this championship, so it helps Wales massively to have both of them at home.”