We take a look at six of the key battles ahead of this weekends Six Nations opener in Cardiff as Wales play host to England.
1.Dan Biggar vs George Ford
The battle at fly half is set to be pivotal in this game with the experienced Biggar going up against England’s young 10 Ford. Both players have been in excellent form for club and country of late and will likely play a key role in dictating the outcome of the game.
Whilst Halfpenny will shoulder the kicking responsibilities for Wales, Ford’s accuracy with the boot will likely dictate the final result. The tactical kicking dual will also go a long way towards dictating which side can edge ahead in what should be a tight game.
2.Sam Warburton vs Chris Robshaw
The battle of the captains will see two opensides going head-to-head at the Millennium Stadium on Friday. Both players are experienced leaders on the international level and head into the Six Nations in good form.
Whilst Warburton probably has the edge at the breakdown, Robshaw’s incredible work rate around the field and high tackle count mean he isn’t too far behind. Both players decision making could be critical in dictating the outcome of the game.
3.George North vs Anthony Watson
Two contrasting wingers are set to face-off on Friday night as Anthony Watson will come face-to-face with Welsh giant George North. Despite being only two years older that Watson, North has significantly more experience on the international stage than his opposite number.
This battle will likely be dictated by which forward pack can provide good ball for their backs as whilst North will be looking to run through Watson, the young English winger will be hoping to use his impressive footwork to get around North.
4.Samson Lee vs Joe Marler
Lee and Marler were arguably the two best props during last years Autumn International series which makes this particular battle very intriguing. Whoever can get the upper hand will play a key role in helping their side to victory.
Both props are still relatively young yet show immense potential and will be hoping to give their side an advantage in the set piece. The question though is will the experience of Marler or the raw power of Lee win this battle?
5.Jamie Roberts vs Luther Burrell
Both Burrell and Roberts will head into this game fairly accustomed to one another after facing off during the final round of the European Champions Cup group stages. On this occasion Roberts dominated the contest and will be hoping to do so once more.
Burrell will be hoping to bounce back in Cardiff though as he looks to put a disappoint Northampton performance behind him. If he struggles to gain parity with Roberts though England could be in all kinds of trouble.
6.Taulupe Faletau vs Billy Vunipola
Faletau and Vunipola won’t be letting family ties hold them back in their encounter in Cardiff on Friday as both will be looking to make a mark for their side. Whichever Number 8 can get on top could really make a difference this weekend.
Both Faletau and Vunipola are powerful ball carrying back rowers, and their respective sides will be hoping they can help them get over the gainline. It could come down to Faletau’s fitness versus Vunipola’s power.
Who do you think will claim the victory in Cardiff this weekend?