England v Wales should be very interesting – but England v Wales is always very interesting!
I thought Scotland, had they taken their chances and not hit the self-destruct button when they did, had it within them to have won either match. Against England, their generous errors were sprinkled liberally throughout the match. Against Wales, they concentrated them all into a 15-minute spell that proved decisive. If you take out that 15-minute spell, Scotland won the rest of the game.
Wales had massive pressure against Ireland for much of the first half, but were behind for almost the entire match. I think, before the days of the referee’s action-replay comfort blanket, Wales would have been awarded a try when they crossed the line with ball in hand, but no-one could see whether it was grounded because it was entirely obscured by bodies.
So, both teams are on 2/2 but both teams could just as easily have been on 0/2. I think the difference between them has been style. Wales have been very exciting to watch and England haven’t – not necessarily their fault of course. Murrayfield and Rome were both numbingly cold quagmires, whereas Dublin and Cardiff-with-the-roof-closed were much more conducive to entertaining rugby.
Traditionally when England and Wales meet for what might be a Championship decider, the press go into fever mode and that, I think, has hyped the players up and occasionally led to a dirty game. So much publicity has been given to foul play over the past few months, what with tip-tackles, red & yellow cards for all sorts of stuff, that I’m sure the coaches will stress the importance of keeping on the right side of the referee. There’s a fine line between imposing yourself physically in a hard-but-fair game and going ott and it becoming a bad-tempered punch-up.
There’s also the unknown quantity of the fitness of the Welsh players. So far they’ve managed wins when many of their key men have been injured. How will they do when they are all fit? And will they be in time for the England match?
I’d say it’s too close to call. However, if it’s a flowing. entertaining game, I’d expect Wales to win, and by a reasonable margin. If it’s not, England may well win but it will be close.