Gareth Crook, Head of Trading at Coral, previews Saturday's Six Nations blockbuster between England and Wales
England has seemingly recovered from their disastrous World Cup despite the fact my own bank account is still recovering from their shock exit in the group stages of RWC2015. My son’s inheritance went along with Stuart Lancaster’s job, and here we are some five months later with England on course for a first Grand Slam in 13 years. Eddie Jones has brought with him an ego to match Liam Gallagher’s, and his first controversial move as England coach was to employ the equally controversial Dylan Hartley as skipper. Hartley goes with discipline as much as the Minnesota Vikings roster suit annual boat trips, but his captaincy choice was proof that Jones was eager to shake off the Lancaster ‘friendly England’ image. He has brought a steely resolve to this English side, and his selection of Manu Tuilagi on the English bench emphasises the ‘in your face’ attitude he wants his troops to employ going forward.
None of this will faze opposite Coach Warren Gatland who himself is as conforming as Hugh Grant on a road trip around Hollywood. Gatland is not one to shunt confrontation, and he has guided this Wales team to three victories at Twickenham under his tenure already. Wales sent shockwaves around the rugby world with their 28-25 victory in the RWC by which point their squad was as decimated as an Amy Winehouse World Tour, and they almost went on to reach the semi-finals before being edged by the Springboks in a thriller.
Back during the World Cup, the layers gave Wales just a 25% (3/1) of beating the English, and five months later at current prices their chances are as high as 36% (7/4). I believe the reality is somewhere nearer their World Cup quote, and I am surprised to see England quoted as big as 1/2 to win this game. They come into the match with ten straight Six Nations victory’s at ‘fortress’ Twickenham, and whilst their opponents away record is equally impressive (lost just two of their previous nine Six Nations away matches), England are a tough proposition against northern hemisphere teams in this competition. I believe England’s chances are around the 68% mark, so quotes of 1/2 represent a touch of value.
Handicap quotes of five points also seem to be slightly on the generous side and the true mark should be nearer seven in my view, so I am going to snap up a fairly rare single digit handicap for England at home in this tournament.
I fully expect the winner of this game to go on and claim the Championship. I am attempting to shrug off my ‘always backs Wales’ reputation here and plump for the English. If I am wrong, I will take my leek and eat it. Pob lwc!
2.5pt England to beat Wales - 4/9
1pt England (-5.5) - 4/5