Scottish Daily Mail


- By CHRIS FOY Sports · Eddie Jones · Wayne Pivac · Warren Gatland · England · George Ford

ENG­LAND made a fa­mil­iar jour­ney west yes­ter­day, full of re­spect for a ri­valry which they could leave in ru­ins this af­ter­noon. Ed­die Jones’ squad trav­elled along the M4 as diplo­mats with deadly in­tent. Neighbours collide in Llanelli in the fi­nal round of the Au­tumn Na­tions Cup pool stage, but the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of their lat­est en­counter ex­tend be­yond the con­fines of this con­trived tour­na­ment.

Af­ter so many years of high­ly­compet­i­tive cross-border con­flict, the old en­e­mies may dis­cover to­day there is now a gulf be­tween them. A jar­ring mis­match ap­pears on the cards, with both sides of the Sev­ern ex­pect­ing a Red Rose tri­umph — pos­si­bly a defin­ing one. For a gen­er­a­tion, this has been a fer­vent tus­sle for supremacy, but a Welsh win this time would be re­garded as a mon­u­men­tal up­set. Wales are in trou­ble fol­low­ing six de­feats in eight matches since Wayne Pi­vac took over as head coach from War­ren Gat­land. They have sev­eral in­jury ca­su­al­ties and not enough pedi­gree cover. And to­day they face vis­i­tors de­ter­mined to be both re­spect­ful and ruth­less. Eng­land No 10 Ge­orge Ford said: ‘We’re go­ing to come up against a team that will do any­thing to win this game. That makes Wales a dif­fer­ent beast. ‘Any guy play­ing in the red shirt against Eng­land will do ev­ery­thing they can to win that game. We’re the same. We’re mas­sively mo­ti­vated, com­pet­i­tive and as hun­gry as ever.’ Asked if be­ing writ­ten off — as Wales have been — can be a pow­er­ful mo­ti­va­tor, he added: ‘It can be. Some­times it can gal­vanise a team. It can bring the best out of them. ‘That’s why we have been pre­par­ing for the best pos­si­ble per­for­mance from Wales this week. We un­der­stand that sit­u­a­tions like that can bring the best out of them. ‘As play­ers, we don’t want to put in a re­ally poor per­for­mance and have a kick up the back­side our­selves. ‘We want to keep get­ting bet­ter and learn­ing while win­ning. ‘Some­times that can be more dif­fi­cult than hav­ing a bad per­for­mance or a loss to give you that. We re­ally want to stay ahead of that curve.’

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