Experimental England set to repeat spring Wales win in Summer Tour warm-up
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | May 28, 2016
England v Wales
- Summer Tour warm-up Test
- Sunday, May 29th
- Twickenham, London
- Kick-off: 15:00 BST
- Live on Sky Sports 3
Summer starts with Six Nations rematch
Grand Slam champions England will again Test themselves against closest challengers Wales before both Home Nations jet out to Australia and New Zealand respectively for their Summer Tours.
The Red Rose – once more enjoying home advantage here – edged their neighbours 25-21 during the Six Nations in March, and appeal again for victory with Coral offering an odds-on price of 8/13 for Eddie Jones’ side to win.
Warren Gatland’s Dragons, meanwhile, are 13/10 to reverse that spring result, having beaten England away on two of the last four trips to Twickenham.
Exeter absences for Saracens showdown
To any watching Wallabies out there, or if the All Blacks are thinking of taking notes, neither side here is showing their full hand because of injuries and club commitments.
In the Red Rose’s case, this is because of the Aviva Premiership Grand Final between Saracens and Exeter Chiefs that takes place 24 hours before this international encounter.
Jones is thus without kicker Owen Farrell and winger Jack Nowell among the England backs, so there are starts for Luther Burrell (9/2 for a try anytime) at centre and Marland Yarde (shorter, but also tasty at 2/1 in the same market) out wide.
Up-and-coming Clifford comes into back row
There are more sweeping changes among the Red Rose forwards, with just three of the eight that started the win over Wales in the XV. Jack Clifford gets his first senior international start at number eight, deputising for the impressive Billy Vunipola.
Clifford is joined in the back row by debutant flanker Teimana Harrison, who replaces former England captain Chris Robshaw on the blindside. Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes return as locks, with Matt Mullan in at loosehead prop for Joe Marler, who won’t be touring Down Under.
Ben Youngs holds off Danny Care’s challenge for the scrum half shirt, and his opposite number wearing nine for Wales will be Rhys Webb, not prolific try scorer Gareth Davies who is rested.
Welsh changes kept to a minimum
Gatland is without Dragons skipper Sam Warburton, yet to recover from a shoulder problem, so fellow back row operator Dan Lydiate wears the armband and switches to openside flanker to accommodate Ross Moriarty’s inclusion.
Six Nations try charts topper George North (2/1 to cross again) apart, Webb is rated Wales’ most likely threat at 5/2. Hallam Amos again deputises down the other wing, with Alex Cuthbert out of the Tour to New Zealand injured.
There’s also a change at centre as Scott Williams covers France-based Jonathan Davies, who misses Dragons duty here because he still has club games.
Front row and Faletau remain
Alun Wyn Jones keeps his place after overcoming a heel problem, but there’s a change of second row partner for the popular Welsh lock with Jake Ball in for Bradley Davies. Gatland is able to name the same front three and Toby Faletau at number eight, though.
Resting Davies, a tryscorer in Wales’ Twickenham triumph during the Rugby World Cup, and the continued absence of full back Leigh Halfpenny are problematic for punters who wish to side with the Dragons again.
While Wales (five) have made fewer changes than the Red Rose (seven), these alterations look to be more significant, although it has to be noted there is greater international experience among the visitors’ replacements.
It may be an experimental England line-up, with particular weight set to fall on the head-to-bead battle between Clifford and Faletau (9/2 to repeat his try from March here), but there are still 10 Grand Slam winners in the home XV.
Jones has thus ensured more than enough of that contingent start this encounter, and superb odds of 7/2 say the Red Rose will record a margin of victory in 1-5 points bracket again, having done so in two of their last three fixtures against the Dragons.
An England win, albeit a narrow one, is once again advocated with the Welsh still lacking their leader Warburton and prolific points scorer Halfpenny.
Our rugby union page is well worth a look for how the Summer Tours are shaping up.
Coral’s top tip: Get behind England again with a sweet 7/2 price saying they will win by 1-5 points. Nifty Wales winger North has a terrific try record in the fixture and also appeals at 2/1.