England v Wales: 5 key battles at Twickenham
Following wins for England and Wales on the opening weekend the attention has now moved to their monumental battle at Twickenham tonight, which is the biggest game of the Rugby World Cup so far.
Stakes going into the clash are high as the teams find themselves in a Pool that also includes rugby giants Australia. This means neither side can afford to lose as they both fight to be one of the two teams that progress to the quarter-finals
The pair, who have a historic rugby rivalry, rarely have games that are anything other than box office and in an electric atmosphere tonight you can expect more of the same.
Here are five key battles that we think could decide the game:
Sam Burgess v Jamie Roberts
Burgess, who has only three caps for England, collides with one of the most dominant centre’s in world rugby when he comes up against 70-cap Jamie Roberts. The rugby league convert will have his work cut out to say the least in a battle that could shake the south-west London stadium to its very foundations.
Mike Brown v Liam Williams
Without Leigh Halfpenny at fullback Wales have opted to play versatile back Liam Williams at 15. He comes up against Brown, who was easily England’s best player against Fiji. Both players are wonderfully competitive and uncompromising with their work, always looking to get across the gain-line. If Williams can outperform Brown, you’d imagine Wales would undoubtedly win.
Owen Farrell v Dan Biggar
Fly-half Biggar has come on leaps and bounds over the last year, improving considerably as a player for both club and country. The 25-year-old is probably in a better position than his opposite number Farrell as the England Number 10 hasn’t played a lot of Test rugby this year after missing out on the Six Nations through injury. In what could be a tight game the duo’s battle from the tee, where they are both accomplished, could be the deciding factor in the game.
Chris Robshaw v Sam Warburton
England Captain Robshaw has a chance to step out of the shadow of Wales and British and Irish Lions Captain Warburton. The two flankers, who both Skipper their respective nations, are inevitably often compared with the England man usually coming out second best. Warburton has a real class to his game while Robshaw is a more consistent performer without the spectacular. It will be interesting to see if Robshaw can silence the critics or whether Warburton will again prevail.
Billy Vunipola v Toby Faletau
The pair, who are cousins, both start in the middle of the back-row on Saturday, standing toe-to-toe for their respective nations. Their fathers Fe’eo Vunipola and Kuli Faletau both played for Tonga and these two embody that traditional Tongan fighting spirit with their styles of play. The youngsters have found themselves pitted against each other from a young age, but now they renew that rivalry at Twickenham on the grandest stage of them all. This will be a great physical battle with an incredible back story.