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.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
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

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture