Scottish Daily Mail

ENGLAND POISED TO DEEPEN WELSH PAIN

- By CHRIS FOY

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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