Maro Itoje to miss Six Nations championship showdown against Wales in Cardiff

It was a sentiment summed up in a speech by Wales captain Phil Bennett shortly before the 1977 edition in Cardiff where the outstanding fly-half concluded by telling his side: "We've been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English - and that's who you are playing this afternoon".

Beat Italy at Twickenham and then it will all come down to the wire, with Wales facing Ireland in Cardiff and England hosting Scotland in the final weekend of matches.

"I'll leave that to the medical team and the boss (Eddie Jones), but we're very encouraged by what we see". I thought tactically they were very good against Ireland. Wales going in as underdogs - huge underdogs really - will be the best thing for them to get right up for it.

Both teams are unbeaten so far in the Six Nations, making Saturday's meeting a Grand Slam "eliminator", adding extra spice to a fixture that needs no more flavour.

Sergio Parisse, Italy's long-serving captain, has been sidelined with suspected concussion playing for club side Stade Francais and Azzurri coach Conor O'Shea, the former Ireland full-back, has made four changes to his side in total.

And while Gatland could legitimately masquerade as an underdog on this occasion after England's blistering start to the Six Nations, deep down he knew his side were more than capable of winning.

The atmosphere, as expected, was electric but the thousands of England fans who had found tickets made their presence felt with "Swing Low" reverberating around the ground, before being drowned out by a cascade of boos. A vision of Welsh happiness would be Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty swarming round the fringes and into Farrell's face, and Wales have a Six Nations-leading 16 turnovers to date - although Farrell is magnificently adept at a strip of the ball himself. "Nothing whets the appetite more than Wales v England".

"Just glad to get the win, ' Wales" Williams said post-match.

There followed a monumental passage of play as the Welsh pack hammered at the line relentlessly for 34 phases.

Tom Curry's first-half score had Wales chasing the game, but Cory Hill's decisive try turned the tables to keep Welsh hopes of a Grand Slam well and truly alive.

Nevertheless, Wales have now won 11 Tests in a row, equalling an all-time national record set way back from 1907-10.

"We lost some momentum, gave a few penalties", Jones said.

'Just think a few of our players were a bit off today and that happens sometimes.

The New Zealander has transformed Wales' strength in depth by selecting a host of new players and taken the squad away to the French Riviera for a training camp to foster the kind of tour mentality they will need in Japan.

"There is a danger we can get overly emotive and swept away and be exhausted coming into the game tomorrow, so there is that element of feet on the ground and job of work to prepare ourselves for tomorrow".

  • Julie Sanders