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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 15:22 GMT
Wales searching for miracles
WALES V ENGLAND
Millennium Stadium
Saturday, 22 February
Kick-off 1730 GMT
LIVE BBC COVERAGE
BBC One, 1430 GMT
BBC Radio Five Live
Radio Wales
Radio Cymru
BBC Sport website
Pre-tournament talk of a two-tier championship had been put on hold by the excitement of the opening weekend, but this could be the game where reality hits home.

The match is traditionally one of the biggest in the rugby calendar, but talk of English hoodoos in Cardiff have been consigned to history as firmly as Gareth Edwards and the Arms Park.

Ceri Sweeney and Jonathan Humphreys
Wales have blended the untried with the discarded

The bookies are offering England 20+ point starts, and not even the most fervent of Welsh fans fancy the odds.

Cardiff holds no fears for Clive Woodward's England machine.

Woodward insists, though, that they are taking nothing for granted.

Clive's just playing a psychological trick, there's no problem with our fitness
Steve Hansen
England have not lost in Wales since 1993 and they are coming off the back of wins against France and the three southern hemisphere giants.

"We are clearly favourites, based on the games last weekend, but upsets happen and that is the beauty of sport," he said.

"It is 15 against 15. We've seen Llanelli playing, and they are a match and more for any team.

"The Welsh team is in a bit of a corner. And we are expecting a physical full-on game.

"The more that England are favourites, the more the pressure is on you. If Wales play with a passion that they know they can, then England have got to be at their best."

Woodward has played the mind games in questioning the Wales team's fitness, but the move had the feel of a phoney war, a side-play to the main event.

Steve Hansen's men are in total disarray, and his opinion that Sunday's WRU reform meeting is more important than the match is an understandable response.

Wales' first ever defeat against Italy was not just a mental humiliation but a physical mauling.

Out-muscled and out-passioned by the Azzurri, Hansen responded by making eight changes, including replacing captain Colin Charvis with in-from-the-cold hooker Jonathan Humphreys.

There's something wrong with the preparation, there's no doubt about that
Former Wales coach Alan Davies
A brave selection? The choices have been blasted by fans and pundits, with former coach Alan Davies suggesting the move smacks of desperation.

The side has one of the smallest and least experienced back rows in living memory, lacks a recognised goal kicker, and throws a talented but untried fly-half to the English lions.

In contrast, Woodward's team has a settled and menacing look. The jury is still out on Charlie Hodgson as a centre, but this looks the perfect environment to bed him in.

If there is a weakness in the England line-up it comes in a front row missing Phil Vickery, Julian White, Jason Leonard, David Flatman and Trevor Woodman.

Iestyn Thomas and Ben Evans will look to exploit the scrummaging of Graham Rowntree and 21-year-old debutant Robbie Morris to put England on the back foot.

Humphreys will lead from the front, and a fervent home crowd should see Wales give their visitors a torrid opening quarter.

But few expect more and if Wales' fragile confidence shatters it could be a time for records to fall.


Wales: K Morgan (Swansea); R Williams (Cardiff), M Taylor (Swansea), T Shanklin (Saracens), G Thomas (Bridgend); C Sweeney (Pontypridd), G Cooper (Bath); I Thomas (Llanelli), J Humphreys (Bath, capt), B Evans (Swansea), R Sidoli (Pontypridd), S Williams (Northampton), D Jones (Llanelli), M Williams (Cardiff), G Thomas (Bath).
Reps: G Williams (Bridgend), G Jenkins (Pontypridd), G Llewellyn (Neath), C Charvis (Swansea), D Peel (Llanelli), I Harris (Cardiff), M Watkins (Llanelli).

England: J Robinson (Sale Sharks); D Luger (Harlequins), W Greenwood (Harlequins), C Hodgson (Sale Sharks), B Cohen (Northampton); J Wilkinson (Newcastle), K Bracken (Saracens); G Rowntree (Leicester), S Thompson (Northampton), R Morris (Northampton), M Johnson (Leicester, capt), B Kay (Leicester),R Hill (Saracens), N Back (Leicester), L Dallaglio (Wasps).
Reps: M Regan (Leeds), M Worsley (London Irish), D Grewcock (Bath), J Worsley (Wasps), A Gomarsall (Gloucester), P Christophers (Bristol Shoguns), J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester).

Ref: Steve Walsh (New Zealand).

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WALES V ENGLAND (CARDIFF)

Head to Head - All-Time

  • Played 108
  • Wales Won 49
  • England Won 47
  • Drawn 12

  • (Wales have been ahead since 1972)

Head to Head - Cardiff

  • Played 36
  • Wales Won 23
  • England Won 11
  • Drawn 2

Head to Head - Last 3 encounters

  • 2002 England 50-10 Wales
  • 2001 Wales 15-44 England
  • 2000 England 46-12 Wales
  • Wales 37pts (average: 12.33pts) England 140pts (average: 46.67pts)

Biggest win (points)

  • Wales 34-21 1967 Cardiff
  • England 60-26 1998 Twickenham

Biggest win (margin)

  • Wales 25-0 1905 Cardiff
  • England 50-10 2002 Twickenham

Most points in an International (win, lose or draw)

  • Wales 34-21 1967 Cardiff
  • England 60-26 1998 Twickenham

World's leading points scorers

  • 1090 Neil Jenkins (Wales (1049 Wales, 41 Lions)
  • 1007 Diego Dominguez (980 Italy, 27 Argentina)
  • 932 Andrew Mehrtens (NZ)
  • 911 Michael Lynagh (Australia)
  • 833 Matthew Burke (Australia)
  • 733 Gavin Hastings (667 Scotland, 66 Lions)
  • 645 Grant Fox (NZ)
  • 640 Jonny Wilkinson (604 England, 36 Lions)

THE WIND OF CHANGE
Wales v England at Cardiff

  • 1965-1989
  • Played 13 Wales won 12 England won 0 Drawn 1
  • 1991-2001
  • Played 5 Wales won 1 England won 4 Drawn 0
  • * Not including Wales 'home' win in 1999 at Wembley (32-21)

Wales v England

  • Form guide all games 1964-1989 inclusive
  • Played 27 Wales won 21 England won 4 Drawn 2
  • Current form since 1990
  • Played 13 Wales won 2 England won 11 Drawn 0

Information supplied by Computacenter - the official data and statistics partner of the RBS Six Nations Championship

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Links to more Internationals stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
England coach Clive Woodward
"Wales are in a corner and can only gone one way"


Wales coach Steve Hansen
"The players want to cleanse themselves of their last appearance"


SEE ALSO
Humphreys gets my vote
19 Feb 03 |  Internationals
That queasy sensation
17 Feb 03 |  Jonny Wilkinson
EGM more important than England
19 Feb 03 |  Internationals
Eager Morris eyes England debut
20 Feb 03 |  Internationals
Davies slates Hansen's choice
20 Feb 03 |  Internationals

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