Rugby Union / Five Nations Countdown: Returning Richards to rule the line-out: Bob Templeton, Australia's assistant coach, outlines to Terry O'Connor the tactics England and Wales will need to ensure victory in today's title decider

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The Independent Online
POSSESSION is the key to winning rugby, which is why the line-out will be the most important phase of play at Twickenham, and England look much stronger here following the return of Dean Richards.

Richards, a master at clearing up any loose ball, should help to counter the Welsh poaching tactics which proved so successful against France. Young Scott Quinnell exploited such a situation when he scored a fantastic individual try at Cardiff.

For England to give themselves an opportunity to win by the wide margin needed to take the championship, they must not only gain a major share of the ball but also use it effectively. It is vital they have two plans - kick for pressure situations and run for tries.

They are aware that Wales have attacked and scored six tries this season while they have yet to cross the line. Neil Jenkins has proved he is not only a superb goal-kicker but moves the ball quickly to encourage Mike Hall and Nigel Davies to create midfield chances.

Wales also possess tremendous pace, with Mike Rayer attacking from full-back to complement the speed of Ieuan Evans and Nigel Walker on the wing. They will find, as France did, that the English defensive cover is difficult to breach.

Let me return to the forward contest, as this is where rugby teams must start to build a victory platform. I respect the streetwise ability of Phil Davies and jumping skills of Gareth Llewellyn, but as England came out on top of the All Blacks they should overcome the Welsh.

England always strive for a controlled line-out, while Wales are certain to try and cause havoc. I envisage England will throw to the end of line-out, in the hope of tying in the Welsh back row, and then set up a drive towards midfield. If this can be followed by a second forward surge with ball released quickly, the English backs should find themselves with a number of options.

There has been a consistency about Welsh tactics this season, but it is more difficult to follow the English pattern. Wales decided from the outset to concentrate on mobility and straight running in the threequarters to commit the defence before passing. This creates a greater chance of support from the loose forwards than when the backs run at an angle.

England started with high aspirations. For the first 15 minutes against Scotland they looked tremendous. One break by Will Carling deserved a try, but Tony Underwood dropped the pass. Then they allowed the game to slip away.

They lost their way and the game against Ireland, which left them in a situation where victory by any means against France was vital. When Australia lost the first Test to France in Bordeaux last autumn we adopted a different approach. It was decided that tentative tactics would be fatal and instead we concentrated on attack. Whatever part of the field, if there was a chance it had to be taken. In the end, Australia won 24-3.

England get into a groove where they kick automatically, ignoring chances to move the ball. Wales breeds astute rugby men, who exploit weakness ruthlessly. It would be fatal for England to miss their line kicks with Rayer, Evans and Walker ready to launch a counter.

England's backs have not received the praise they deserve. Although playing under a conservative approach, Carling and Phil de Glanville made openings against Scotland, while Tony Underwood should have scored against the All Blacks. They have also missed the highly gifted Jeremy Guscott.

I have no doubt they possess the ability to win by the margin needed, but it would be wrong to start off with a target, although it should always be at the back of the mind. Wales are smart and with Neil Jenkins capable of kicking from all round the field, England will need to be disciplined.

The Welsh do not need to win by more than a point to take all the titles at stake, but this should not produce a defensive attitude. I have always argued that to be negative breeds the wrong thinking.

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