Cory Hill and Josh Adams scored second-half tries as record-breaking Wales took a big stride towards claiming the Six Nations title with a 21-13 victory over England at the Principality Stadium.

England - also aiming to make it three wins out of three - led 10-3 at the end of a ferocious first half in Cardiff on Saturday, after the magnificent Tom Curry scored his first Test try.

Eddie Jones' side never really got going in the second half, though, and Hill crossed 12 minutes from time, adding to three Gareth Anscombe penalties as Wales came storming back.

England were unable to respond, failing to provide a genuine attacking threat after the break, and Adams added a second try for Warren Gatland's side in an almighty battle as Wales stretched their winning run to a record 12 in a row.

They are now two wins away from a Grand Slam in Gatland's final year in charge.

Leigh Halfpenny will make his comeback from concussion for the Scarlets against the Cheetahs in the Pro14 on Sunday.

The full-back has not played since suffering a head injury in Wales' victory over Australia in November.

Halfpenny has been cleared to return at Parc y Scarlets, where he will look to prove he can play a part in the final two rounds of the Six Nations after the clash with England on Saturday came too soon.

Fellow Wales international Rhys Patchell, who recovered from a hamstring injury to face Benetton, once again has to settle for a place on the bench.

Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias and Jake Ball are another trio of Wales players who will feature for Wayne Pivac's side.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland thinks the enormity of a crucial Six Nations clash in Cardiff on Saturday could be challenging for the temperament of England's "time-bomb" Kyle Sinckler.

Prop Sinckler had an altercation with Peter O'Mahony in the win over Ireland and was reminded to adhere to "rugby values" by referee Nigel Owens following a clash with France's Arthur Iturria at Twickenham.

Gatland, who selected Sinckler for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017, would not be surprised to see Sinckler sailing close to the wind again in the heat of the battle at the Principality Stadium.

"There is a challenge sometimes with his temperament. He's aware of it. Other players are aware of it. We've already seen in the Six Nations that he has been involved in a couple of incidents," said the New Zealander.

"Hopefully, we don't get dragged into that on Saturday. Emotionally, he can be a bit of a time-bomb. I am not saying anything that people aren't aware of.

"Look, we won't be going out there trying to antagonise him, because that's not in our make-up. We will just go out there and play.

"Hopefully, he goes out and has a good game and is able to keep his emotions in control, because that's a big challenge for him."

England's trip to Wales looks primed to be a pivotal clash in the outcome of this year's Six Nations and the mind games started early.

Eddie Jones described Warren Gatland's outfit as "the greatest Welsh team ever", although the Wales coach was quick to reject that claim.

Jones is likely to be trying to deflect pressure and attention away from his side after England installed themselves as tournament favourites with a victory in Ireland followed by a dominant home success against France.

Wales are the other side with a 100 per cent record in this year's competition, but Scotland and Ireland are still in with a shot at claiming the title and will have a keen eye on events in Cardiff.

With the help of Opta, we take a statistical look at the third round of matches.

France v Scotland

A chastening 44-8 loss at Twickenham left France reeling and a showdown with Scotland no longer provides the historical comfort it once might have.

France won 15 of their first 16 Six Nations matches against Scotland but have lost two of the previous three.

Greig Laidlaw will have a personal milestone on his radar, requiring just two points to overtake Gavin Hastings (667) as Scotland’s second top points scorer behind Chris Paterson (809).

 

Wales v England

Everything points to a nail-biting clash in the Welsh capital on Saturday, despite England's relative dominance of this fixture.

Each of the last five meetings between the two in the Six Nations have been won by England, but the most recent four of those triumphs have been by a margin smaller than that of a converted try.

Wales will have their sights set on a slice of history, knowing that beating England would make it a national record 12 wins in a row.

Italy v Ireland

Italy have come away from their first two games empty handed and the omens against reigning champions Ireland do not bode well.

Ireland have won 18 of their 19 Six Nations games versus Italy, who themselves have been beaten in 33 of their last 34 fixtures with tier-one opponents.

There is one thing going in the hosts' favour, though, as their last win at the Stadio Olimpico in the Six Nations came in 2013 against Ireland.

Warren Gatland distanced himself from the notion put forward by England coach Eddie Jones that this Wales team is the best of all time.

Jones made the comments ahead of England's visit to Cardiff on Saturday, when the two sides boasting 100 per cent records in this year's Six Nations will meet in a crunch clash.

The Australian insisted this was "the greatest Welsh side ever", but Gatland does not feel his charges are at that level.

"The only quotes I can see about this being the greatest Wales team are from Eddie Jones," said Gatland.

"It hasn't come from anyone else, so I wouldn't be disrespectful enough to say this was the greatest Welsh team ever.

"It's a long way off being the greatest Welsh team ever. He's the one talking us up."

Wales would make history with a win, setting a new national record of 12 victories on the bounce, and Gatland believes home advantage could prove key, while England's decision to head across the border the day before the game may also be telling. 

"The big challenge for England is five of their forward pack, it's the first time they're starting at the Principality Stadium," he said. 

"I think England are making a significant mistake by travelling tomorrow [Friday], coming through Newport at about five o'clock is probably not the best thing to be doing, going through the Brynglas tunnels.

"There's a good chance there could be tractors and buses holding them up. That's going to be an experience for them."

Gatland has opted for Gareth Anscombe over Dan Biggar in his starting line-up, while Gareth Davies will start at scrum-half.

Gareth Anscombe has been preferred to Dan Biggar in Wales' starting line-up for the Six Nations blockbuster showdown with England in Cardiff on Saturday.

Anscombe is restored to the side after Biggar came in at number 10 for the victory over Italy before the rest weekend.

Biggar will be among the replacements at the Principality Stadium after recovering from a knee injury sustained while playing for Northampton Saints last Saturday.

Gareth Davies starts at scrum-half as Warren Gatland rings the changes following a win over the Azzurri that leaves Wales and England as the only sides to have won both matches.

Wales head coach Gatland said: "We are really happy with the experience we have got in the side. We have been on the road for the first two weeks, we are looking forward to being back at home and to build on those first two wins and to build on our performance.

"We've had a great two-week lead up to this game, we've looked really sharp and the squad are incredibly motivated to kick on.

"We know how important this game is for the rest of the championship. It's a massive challenge playing against an England team that is playing really well and with a lot of confidence and we've got to make it difficult for them on Saturday."

Leigh Halfpenny trained with the team this week but will not have the chance to make his first appearance since sustaining a concussion against Australia in November.

 

Wales: Liam Williams, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Elliot Dee, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Aaron Wainwright, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.

 

Ben Moon and Jack Nowell have been named in the starting line-up for England's crunch Six Nations clash with Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Moon gets the nod after influential prop Mako Vunipola suffered a tournament-ending ankle injury in the thrashing of France last time out.

Nowell will be back on the right wing at the Principality Stadium in the absence of Chris Ashton, who misses out due to a calf strain.

Joe Cokanasiga, Brad Shields, Ellis Genge and Harry Williams have been named among the replacements as both sides look to make it three wins out of three.

England head coach Eddie Jones said: "England and Wales is always a big game.

"Intense rivals and there is the historical context to it, but for us it is our most important game because it is our next game and that is how we are treating it.

"As you have read in the media, it's all about Wales, we are playing potentially the greatest team ever. Their players are full of emotion and it's the biggest game they are going to play in their lives.

"We have had a good week just focusing on ourselves and focusing on getting our preparation right."

 

England: Elliot Daly, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Owen Farrell (captain), Ben Youngs; Ben Moon, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Courtney Lawes, George Kruis, Mark Wilson, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Harry Williams, Joe Launchbury, Brad Shields, Dan Robson, George Ford, Joe Cokanasiga.

Maro Itoje will miss England's Six Nations clash with Wales on Saturday as expected, forwards coach Steve Borthwick confirmed.

The star lock sustained a ligament injury to his right knee during England's eye-catching 32-20 opening-round win against reigning Grand Slam champions Ireland, keeping him out of the subsequent victory over France.

It was reported Itoje would not be fit in time to face Wales either and that has now been verified by Borthwick.

"Maro continues to go well and he continues to rehab day by day as he gets back from injury, but he is not going to be available for Saturday's game," Borthwick told Sky Sports.

"You are always looking towards the future and the progressions day by day. He is doing well but not quite ready for Saturday."

Borthwick would not confirm Itoje's status for the next match against Italy, adding: "I expect him to continue to be monitored on a day-by-day basis and progress.

"Right now, he's not fit for Saturday and I am not looking beyond that."

Wales, like England, have won their first two matches this year, seeing off France and Italy away from home.

Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar are back in training for Wales, who hope to have the duo available to take on England in the Six Nations this weekend.

Full-back Halfpenny has not featured since November, having suffered concussion against Australia, while fly-half Biggar started in the win over Italy last time out but played only 20 minutes for Northampton Saints on Saturday before departing injured.

In a media conference on Tuesday, forwards coach Robin McBryde offered a positive update on the pair, although he stopped short of declaring them fit for the clash in Cardiff against England who, like Wales, have won each of their opening two matches of the tournament.

"Leigh Halfpenny and Dan Biggar are training with us and hopefully will both be available for selection," he said.

"Leigh needed a bit more contact in training. He hadn't had enough last week - that's why he didn’t play at the weekend [for the Scarlets].

"We are building him up this week. There's no way we would put somebody in a position he's not comfortable with. Those discussions will take place later this week."

England head coach Eddie Jones said previously he was preparing his side to face the greatest Wales team in history, but McBryde refused to be drawn into such hyperbole.

"I'm not going to enter into those games," he said. "I'm privileged to be doing what I am. We know Saturday is a big step and we have to match England with the World Cup around the corner.

"We have got to stand toe to toe with them. Stats are one thing - we know we haven't been at our best in our first two games. We are going to have to earn everything against England. We have had a comfortable feel this week."

England wing Chris Ashton has been ruled out of next weekend's Six Nations clash with Wales due to a calf injury.

Coach Eddie Jones named a group of 33 players who would prepare for the match but a minor strain means Ashton is absent.

The Sale Sharks man came on as a replacement during the opening victory over Ireland in Dublin and featured from the start as England maintained their winning start against France last time out.

Saturday's trip to Cardiff sees the championship's top two sides go head to head.

England had already confirmed that Mako Vunipola will be missing, with the Saracens prop having sustained an ankle injury at Twickenham last weekend.

Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham and others were able to meet Alex Ferguson's standards at Manchester United because of iconic youth coach Eric Harrison, according to their fellow 'Class of '92' graduate Chris Casper.

Harrison passed away on Wednesday at the age of 81 and the world of football was swift to pay tribute to the man who helped forge one of the greatest dynasties the sport has seen in Britain.

As well as Giggs, Scholes and Beckham, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Nicky Butt all came through United's academy in the early 1990s, going on to play a huge role in one of the most fruitful periods in the club's history.

Giggs – the most decorated British player ever – went on to overtake Bobby Charlton as United's record appearance maker, while Scholes is third in that list and Gary Neville captained them for six years.

All six players were nurtured by the guiding hand of Harrison, and Casper – who started alongside Giggs, Gary Neville and Butt in the 1991-92 FA Youth Cup final – thinks the coach's similarity to Ferguson was vital.

"They were very similar, with the values and standards," Casper told Omnisport. "I think the work ethic they demonstrated every day, the standard they set, the expectations the manager [Ferguson] set – it came from Eric, really.

"Eric was the first person to work with you when you got into the training ground as a 16-year-old, sometimes even before that when you were 14 or 15.

"He set the tone really, but there was nothing different about the way Eric was and the way the manager was. It was just that progression. They were similar in many ways.

"It was obviously driven by the manager, he picked you for the first team, but it was started by Eric. He gave you the confidence to believe in yourself.

"He was our mentor, teacher, leader. He helped shape us not just as footballers, but people as well.

"I think a lot of it is values, the way you behave, portray yourself, the way you act, also having clear messages - Eric wasn't one for mincing his words, and you really appreciated that from him."

Many of the revered 'Class of '92' have since followed Harrison into coaching, with Giggs managing Wales, Phil Neville in charge of the England women's team and Butt heading up United's academy.

Scholes is the latest to take up a full-time position after being appointed the manager of League Two's Oldham Athletic on Monday, and Casper – now sporting director of Salford City, the club part-owned by Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Butt and the Nevilles – thinks they will all aspire to manage United one day.

"He [Scholes] had such a long career, you always hoped he'd go into that side of things and use his experience and knowledge," Casper added.

"I don't think Paul will change [his personality] in the dressing room. I think he'll set the standard, a very high standard.

"It's good that Paul, Ryan, Nicky and Phil are getting the opportunities to put something back into the game, helping people, using their experience and shaping their football clubs, squads and teams.

"Man United is the biggest, or one of the biggest, jobs in world football. I'd imagine they'd all have aspirations to manage the club one day.

"It'd be good to have that continuity and have that experience of what it actually takes to be at Man United and be part of something that'd be great moving forward.

"They're all getting experience, hopefully they'll get the opportunity to manage it [make the jump up to United's level]."

Leigh Halfpenny remains a doubt for the Six Nations clash with England after the Wales star was left out of the Scarlets team to face Benetton Treviso this weekend.

The British and Irish Lions full-back has not featured since November, having suffered concussion while playing for Wales against Australia in Cardiff.

However, Halfpenny reported for training with the national team this week and was then released to return to the Scarlets, seemingly hinting at his return in Pro14 action on Saturday.

Yet Halfpenny has been left out of the region's matchday squad, not even making the bench just a week before Wales' crunch Six Nations meeting with England at Principality Stadium.

Both Wales and England have won their first two matches of the campaign, but Halfpenny's absence would prove a blow to Warren Gatland's men.

There was at least better news on Scarlets team-mate Rhys Patchell, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury, as he was named among the replacements against Treviso.

Neil Jenkins is paying little attention to Eddie Jones' pre-match comments as Wales and England gear up for action next week.

Head coach Jones has seen his England side make a perfect start to the Six Nations and, despite a break in the schedule this weekend, has already started to poke fun at next opponents Wales.

Jones suggested Warren Gatland's men represent the best Welsh team of all time but insisted England have nothing to fear in Cardiff.

Yet Wales great Jenkins, who serves as Gatland's kicking coach, expected that there would be plenty of bluster ahead of the clash and even suggested that Jones might be right in playing down the significance of the venue.

"I'm not concerned about what he says. It's up to Eddie what he says," Jenkins said. "He's got an opinion and he's entitled to that.

"[Cardiff] might not be intimidating for England. They've won the last few times they've played there so it's probably not a fortress for them. Maybe he's right in what he's saying.

"It is what it is. I'm sure there's a lot of anger that will be thrown out between now and the game.

"I'm sure Eddie will throw some as well. He's a fantastic coach, has done a fantastic job with England and has done throughout his career.

"It's Wales v England - it doesn't get any better than that for us. When the All Blacks come to town, that's a humongous game. This can be on a par."

Both teams have won their opening two matches of the campaign, with England defeating Ireland and France. Wales saw off the French and then Italy.

Former Wales hooker Matthew Rees has announced that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 38-year-old returned last month after undergoing knee surgery and has decided to call time on a 19-year professional career when Cardiff Blues' campaign comes to an end.

Rees won 60 caps for Wales and toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions a decade ago.

The former Scarlets captain is determined to end his playing days on a high by sealing a European Rugby Champions Cup spot.

"I've made my decision to retire based on a few reasons but mainly age isn't on my side anymore and it's been a tough journey with an injury like an ACL reconstruction and its rehabilitation." said Rees.

"I've managed to get through that and I'm now able retire on my own terms after an illustrious career.

"I haven't featured much this season because of the injury but now I want to go out on a high. We have three months left and hopefully I can play a part in those remaining games.

"The next few weeks are going to be huge, especially when you consider how tight it is in the league table. 

"We've put ourselves in a decent position in the Pro14 and we have some big games coming up. We've had a taste of the Champions Cup again and that's where this region wants to be and where the players want to challenge themselves."

Scott Williams will play no part in the Six Nations after Wales released him back to the Ospreys to continue rehabilitation on a back injury.

The centre did not feature for Warren Gatland's side in the wins over France and Italy, with the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) confirming the decision for Williams to go back to his club side on Wednesday.

"Scott Williams has been released from the Six Nations squad to continue rehabilitation of his back injury at his region," the statement read.

"It is felt that his injury will preclude him from taking a competitive part in the competition."

A further update on which players will be released for domestic duties is expected from the Wales camp later on Wednesday, with question marks hanging over the fitness of Scarlets star Leigh Halfpenny.

It is a rest weekend in the Six Nations schedule, but Gatland's side will return to action on February 23 to host an England team who have also won their opening two games. 

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