Itoje absence confirmed for England's trip to Wales

       Maro Itoje is 'progressing nicely' ahead of England's trip to Cardiff to play Wales on Saturday

0:34 Maro Itoje is 'progressing nicely' ahead of England's trip to Cardiff to play Wales on Saturday

One was for England.

But if England can turn up in Japan with a fit forward pack - they were minus two aces in Mako Vunipola and Maro Itoje at Cardiff - then they are in with a major shot.

You win big games by staying calm in the big moments and taking your chances when they come.

"As you have read in the media, it's all about Wales, we are playing potentially the greatest team ever". That's been sorely learned, too. The feat is remarkable.

England are narrow favourites, and rightly so considering the dominant manner of their wins over Ireland and France, but Wales are in this fight. A lot of the kicking was rubbish.

Farrell converted and England's supremely organised and, these days, disciplined defence meant Wales's best efforts came to nought and the visitors led 10-3 at the break.

Chasing an elusive Grand Slam, England knew a positive result would deliver a first clean sweep for a decade, while a defeat by six points or less would still seal the championship.

This time they're at Principality Stadium, which Wales assistant coach Rob Howley believed gave the home side a five-point start.

"We're evolving and we're not anywhere near where we want to be either", he said. "It's important to play the game on our terms".

England head into the match top of the table after bonus point wins over Ireland, the reigning champions, and France yielded 10 tries in total.

"I know me and Martyn have been 7s in the past, but Tom Curry has been absolutely magnificent for England. Only ourselves", Gatland admitted.

England's discipline wavered, Kyle Sinckler - such an important player for Jones' side - started letting the red mist cloud his judgement and Wales got a grip on the game.

Fly-half Anscombe, selected in place of proven goalkicker Biggar, declined a couple of early penalty shots at goal, preferring to kick for line-outs. With him will be Gareth Davies, the third starting scrumhalf in three games, who has been picked for his defensive qualities. "England seem to be playing the best rugby and if they can play anything like that it could be a good day".

Before Wales got on the coach from their base to travel to the stadium, Gatland told his team they were going to return as winners as they had forgotten how to lose. Liam Williams, 14. George North, 13.

Owen Farrell kicked England into a 17th-minute lead when Wales conceded a scrum penalty, yet the home side continued to look more unsafe with ball in hand. The roof will be open and Gatland certainly thinks it makes a difference. England sought to underline leadership and responsibility by bringing in former national soccer captain John Terry.

The British and Irish Lion will captain Wales for the 21st time. Full credit to Wales'. But passion rarely tends to sustain teams for 80 minutes.

Warren Gatland feels that England have made "a significant mistake" by deciding to travel to Cardiff so late on Friday for the crucial Guinness Six Nations match on Saturday. "It could inspire them or it could be a ball and a chain".

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