Fresh off a superb Six Nations debut versus Italy in Rome, England’s Sam Simmonds heads into Saturday’s clash with Wales high on confidence.
Billy Vunipola’s boots looked too big to fill but having topped the tackle count and crossed the whitewash twice last weekend, Simmonds is having no problems silencing the doubters.
Though some 5st lighter than the injured Vunipola, Simmonds’ explosive pace makes him very difficult to handle and he’ll become a real threat if England can get themselves camped in the Wales 22 early on.
At a general 12/1, the man dubbed a ‘bit of a freak’ by Exeter and England teammate Jack Nowell looks good value to touch down first.
The overall game plan for England will be to stamp their authority at the scrum and lineout early on, then allow George Ford and Owen Farrell to call the shots.
England’s 10 and 12 have great tactical nous and rarely make the wrong decisions, so under the immense pressure of 90,000 fans at Twickenham I expect them to handle proceedings better than the inexperienced Rhys Patchell.
Patchell will be earning just his seventh international cap, and with the likes of Jonathan Joseph, Farrell and Simmonds running into his channel, the 24-year-old fly-half may just wilt.
It will no doubt be a spirited performance from the Welsh, and who would want to face a side coming off the back of a 30-point victory against an in-form Scotland? But, ultimately, England should have enough to make it three wins from their last three against the Welsh on home soil.
Grovenorsport.com’s offer of 8/5 for England to triumph by 1-12 points appeals.
Sam Simmonds First Try Scorer – 12/1 (General)
England 1-12 points – 8/5 (Grosvenorsport.com)