Six Nations: Welsh five-point plan to stop England's Grand Slam

Wales have the weapons and know-how to hit England in grand finale in Cardiff

murrayfield

If England beat Italy at Twickenham today they will march into Cardiff seeking a first Grand Slam since 2003. They will also run into the team that has picked up three Grand Slams in the past nine years and are the Six Nations champions.

So where better for Stuart Lancaster's men to prove they are becoming real contenders for the World Cup on home soil in 2015 than the seething cauldron of the Millennium Stadium, and against a Welsh team that has just won three games in a row on the road?

So where can Wales hurt England and how will they try to deny them a prize that was last lifted by Martin Johnson's future world beaters?

Defensive resilience: Wales kept Scotland at bay

Wales have gone three games without conceding a try and 272 minutes since Brian O'Driscoll crossed the line in round one. The way they kept Scotland at bay in the closing moments of yesterday's game showed how much pride they put in their defence.

As Shaun Edwards always preaches, "defence wins titles". Wales made 102 tackles against the Scots and had a 97 per cent completion rate. If Sam Warburton and Co can do that again next weekend then they might just be able to shut out England's attack as well.

Goal-kicking: Halfpenny will be at home

Leigh Halfpenny may have had a first-half wobble at Murrayfield, missing three successive penalty shots into the wind, but after that he was back to his perfect best.

He has the range and accuracy to hurt any team in the world and picked up 223 points in Edinburgh. He was man of the match in the away wins over France and Italy, winning both games with his boot, and is to be feared and respected.

Given a chance to strike from anywhere 60 metres out from the English posts at the Millennium Stadium he will fancy his chances – especially with most of the crowd behind him!

Front row: Jones is Grand Slam rock

The all-British & Irish Lions front row of Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees and Adam Jones might have fragmented, but both props should be in contention, with Richard Hibbard the favoured man in between them. Jones is the rock on which the Welsh Grand Slams of 2005, 2008 and 2012 were built and has been a powerhouse this season. The French failed to get advantage up front in Paris, the Italian scrum crumbled against him in Rome and the Scots were the latest to fall.

Which rookie loose head Stuart Lancaster puts in against him – Joe Marler or Mako Vunipola – will face arguably the top tight-head scrummager in the northern hemisphere.

Jenkins will know all about Dan Cole, but with more than 100 Tests behind him should have enough in his locker to nullify him. If his calf injury is still troubling him then Paul James, rated by Leinster coach Joe Schmidt as the most destructive loose head in Europe last season, is a more than capable deputy.

Putting Hibbard in the middle of the front row has given further solidity. Hibbard against Dylan Hartley could be interesting.

Back three: Attacking ability

Wales' combination of little and large – the tiny Halfpenny in conjunction with the gigantic flyers George North and Alex Cuthbert – at the back has remained their secret weapon for much of this season.

But the attacking ability they contain can cause havoc in any defensive alignment, as Cuthbert's try in Rome proved. If England kick badly, Wales can and will punish them. Knocking down North and Cuthbert is not easy, while Halfpenny is like an eel wriggling through gaps.

History/pressure: England are haunted

England haven't won a Grand Slam since 2003. Just look at the players and team they had then compared to know. Where there is talent now, there was that and experience a decade ago. When England had the chance to shoot for Grand Slam glory in Dublin two years ago, they failed. Will that prey on their minds? The last time England met Wales with the Grand Slam at stake we all know what happened: Wembley – Scott Quinnell charge, Scott Gibbs dance and Neil Jenkins conversion. The spirit of '99 will be hanging in the air all next week.

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave