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England v Wales talking points

Published 25/09/2015

Wales centre Jamie Roberts, pictured, faces a blockbusting battle with England midfield newcomer Sam Burgess
Wales centre Jamie Roberts, pictured, faces a blockbusting battle with England midfield newcomer Sam Burgess

Fierce rivals England and Wales meet in a crunch World Cup clash at Twickenham on Saturday that will shape both countries' quarter-final ambitions.

Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the talking points surrounding one of the biggest games between England and Wales in Test match history.

SAM BURGESS v JAMIE ROBERTS

It is a heavyweight top-of-the-bill bout between two players at contrasting stages of their Test careers. Rugby league import Burgess makes only his second England start since switching codes less than a year ago while twice British and Irish Lions tourist Roberts lines up for the 71st time in Wales colours, making him his country's most capped centre of all-time. Burgess has got it all to prove in England's midfield after being on the most rapid of selection fast-tracks but Roberts has been there, seen it and done it. Experience could prove to be the telling factor.

DEFINING DAYS OF STUART LANCASTER'S REIGN

The possibility of England making a pool stage exit from their own World Cup is too painful for many to contemplate. But if Lancaster's men fail to beat Wales on Saturday and then lose against Australia seven days later the dream will effectively be over. On the flip side, two wins would secure a potential home quarter-final and edge Lancaster closer towards emulating England's 2003 World Cup-winning supremo Sir Clive Woodward. Will the house of Lancaster still be standing in eight days time or will it come crashing down around him?

TWICKENHAM HOME FROM HOME FOR WARREN GATLAND

Wales head coach Gatland has an outstanding record at Twickenham. He masterminded three Premiership final triumphs in successive seasons with Wasps and he also oversaw a 2005 Heineken Cup final triumph against Toulouse, when current Wales assistant coach Rob Howley scored the Londoners' winning try. Gatland has also plotted two Wales wins at English rugby headquarters - in 2008 and 2012 - and he rarely gets it wrong on the big occasion. He will relish Saturday's high-octane encounter.

A FAMILY CONNECTION

Amid the white-hot heat of battle on Saturday, it will be easy to forget that England number eight Billy Vunipola and his opposite number Taulupe Faletau are related. The cousins grew up together playing rugby in south Wales and they have remained close, but those ties will go out of the window for 80-odd minutes on Saturday with World Cup points at stake in a fiercely-competitive pool that also includes Australia.

SCRUMMAGING SPOTLIGHT

Rugby union's key set-piece area will go a long way towards deciding the outcome on Saturday, but much of it will be in the hands of French referee Jerome Garces and his interpretations. Rival props Dan Cole and Gethin Jenkins on one side of the scrum, and Joe Marler and Tomas Francis on the other, will want a fierce and fair contest and take referee decision-making out of the equation, but only time will tell.

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