Six Nations 2013: We know how to stop England's Manu Tuilagi spoiling Wales' clean sheet, says Jonathan Davies

The sides meet in a Six Nations decider this Saturday

Wales have now played 276 minutes of Six Nations rugby – very nearly three and a half matches – without conceding a try. So when Jonathan Davies, their outside centre, describes this climactic week as "normal", it is enough to chill red-rose bones to the marrow. If complete defensive security is the new normal, a first England Grand Slam in a decade is a good deal further away than the men from Twickenham might have hoped.

Davies, born in the English Midlands but very much a man of Llanelli, did not have the happiest of starts to the tournament, but his form in recent matches has reinstated him as a serious contender for the forthcoming Lions tour of Australia – a trip for which his playing partner, Jamie Roberts, has already been inked in. Together, the two midfielders pose a significant threat to English ambitions.

"We've been involved in these huge matches before," said the Scarlets player, who will square up to the freakishly powerful Manu Tuilagi in Cardiff. "With the Grand Slam last year and the World Cup semi-final in 2011, we're drawing on some rich experience. When you're used to the big-game environment and you know what to expect, you can just get your head down and play."

The Davies-Roberts relationship is on the point of being venerated as the steadiest in Welsh rugby history: this game, their 14th together, will see them beat the record set by Ray Gravell and Steve Fenwick in the late 1970s and early 1980s. "People said we were too similar and couldn't play together," Davies commented, "but if we set a new mark, it will be testament to our hard work. It's taken a while, but we've come a long way."

Might Tuilagi spoil the celebrations with his trademark stampedes through the heavy traffic? Davies did not sound like a man petrified by the prospect of stopping England's most powerful runner in his tracks. "Tuilagi and Brad Barritt are a strong pairing but Sam Warburton [the Wales flanker and recent captain] showed at Twickenham last year how you tackle Tuilagi. He took him low, around the ankles, and it was an effective approach.

"Basically, we have to trust our defensive patterns and follow what we've done in the last few games, which has been really impressive. To go three matches without conceding is a big plus for us and we'll be looking to keep it up."

Rob Howley, the former scrum-half who has shouldered the head coach's burden in this competition while Warren Gatland concentrates on Lions business, will name his side today. There are precious few decisions to be made, although the injury suffered by the blind-side flanker Ryan Jones at Murrayfield last weekend, together with the strong scrummaging performance of the Bath prop Paul James, has given him something to ponder in the wee small hours.

Justin Tipuric, the Ospreys breakaway, is expected to feature alongside Warburton, his fellow groundhog, in a reshaped loose-forward combination. As for the front-row issue, Howley must decide whether to recall his most experienced prop Gethin Jenkins after a successful recovery from calf trouble.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
arts + entsWith one of the best comic roles around, it's no wonder she rarely bothers with films
News
people
News
i100
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
News
i100
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
News
i100
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup