Jack Clifford and Jack Nowell to start for England against Wales

February 9, 2017

The England team to face Wales at Cardiff's Principality Stadium in the second round of Six Nations matches on Saturday has been named, with Jack Clifford and Jack Nowell both starting.

Exeter Chiefs wing Nowell comes back in place of Johnny May, while Clifford takes the place of Tom Wood as open-side flanker. Wood and May will both be on the bench.

These are the only two changes from the opening match against France at Twickenham last Saturday, when the home side played poorly at times but still found the reserves of strength and determination to pull the game out of the fire and win 19-16. In doing so, they set a new English record of 15 straight wins, 14 of them under the stewardship of head coach Eddie Jones. A second successive Grand Slam will see them smash the record of 18 successive Test wins set by the All Blacks only last year.

Fans booking corporate hospitality for the match against Italy on February 26th and Scotland on March 11th will hope England are still unbeaten by then, but much will depend on whether they can produce a better performance in Cardiff against a side driven on by a patriotic crowd after winning their opening match against Italy in Rome 33-7. However, England can take inspiration from the fact that on their last visit in 2015 they were able to cross back over the Severn with a 21-16 victory to celebrate.

Looking forward to the game, Jones said: "Playing Wales in Cardiff is one of the biggest games in world rugby and we're excited.

"These are the games you want to be part of as a player and a coach.

"We don’t need extra motivation this week; we play Test rugby because we want to be the best for England. Every game for us is important and our supporters, and Wales is our next game so it’s the most important."

The Wales team will feature two changes to its front row, with coach Rob Howley bringing in Rob Evans and Tomas Francis at prop, with Nicky Smith and Samson Lee making way. Otherwise, the side is unchanged from that which won in the Stadio Olimpico last week.

Howley said: "There is huge excitement in the camp ahead of Saturday for what is set to be a massive RBS Six Nations encounter.

"We were really pleased with the result out in Rome and are looking to build on that performance this weekend."

The Welsh may now be England's biggest rivals for the Six Nations trophy after Ireland suffered a shock defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield last week. Having beaten New Zealand and Australia in the autumn, the men in green were seen as real challengers to England, but were defeated 27-22 in Edinburgh as Scotland proved recent talk of a major improvement was not just hype.

Ireland will travel to Rome to take on Italy, while France will hope to get their campaign back on track after their loss at Twickenham when they face Scotland at the Stade de France.

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