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Gareth Davies relishes healthy Rhys Webb rivalry

Published 09/03/2016

Scrum-half Gareth Davies has become a key attacking force for Wales
Scrum-half Gareth Davies has become a key attacking force for Wales

It is a healthy rivalry that could run from Wales' perspective all the way through to World Cup 2019 and beyond.

Wales will face RBS 6 Nations title rivals England on Saturday with two of Europe's leading scrum-halves - Gareth Davies and Rhys Webb - in their matchday 23.

Davies, as he has done since the opening game of a 2015 World Cup campaign that Webb missed due to serious injury, will wear the number nine shirt at Twickenham, with fit-again Webb on bench duty ahead of a potential international return.

Between them, they have scored 11 tries in 28 Test match appearances, including touchdowns against England - 25-year-old Davies last September, and 27-year-old Webb seven months before that - and both possess match-winning qualities.

"I think we all knew that as soon as 'Webby' was fit he was going to be straight back in the squad with us," Scarlets scrum-half Davies said. "I expected it really.

"I've had Aled (Davies) and Lloyd Williams breathing down my neck since the start of the campaign, so it is a bit of extra pressure for me, but I enjoy it.

"The more international rugby you play, the more experience you gain, and I think you improve as a player. The more caps I get, the more experience I get and hopefully the better I get."

Davies' second-half try during Wales' World Cup triumph against England was among the tournament's most-replayed scores, as he finished brilliantly following a superb kick from Lloyd Williams, who had been pressed into emergency wing duty because of an escalating injury situation.

Unsurprisingly, Davies vividly recalls Wales' fightback from 22-12 adrift to win by three points and nudge the World Cup hosts towards pool stage elimination.

"It was about 60 minutes in. We were behind on the scoreboard, but I remember thinking that we were in a better place than they were," he added.

"A lot of their forwards were blowing, and a few of them were on the floor, struggling a bit.

"So I had a word with our forwards and said it was a big opportunity for us here. If we could pick it up a gear or two, I was sure we could come away with something special.

"And to be fair to them, they did, and we managed to get that try and obviously Biggs' (Dan Biggar's) penalty at the end to win it.

"I think it was a great team performance, more than anything. Lloyd did a superb job putting that kick in - I just happened to be at the right place at the right time and just about managed to pick the ball up to slide between the sticks."

Much has changed from an England viewpoint since that late September night, with a new head coach in Eddie Jones and new captain Dylan Hartley taking up the reins to impressive effect, overseeing three successive Six Nations wins.

"I think we have got to start well," Davies said. "In a couple of the games in this campaign we have started off a bit slowly.

"We have talked about the first 20 minutes. We have got to come out all guns blazing. That is going to be massive for us. I am sure if we can do that and play a nice high-tempo game, then hopefully we can come away with a nice win.

"We are quite confident and comfortable playing anywhere, really. We had a couple of good performances at Twickenham in the World Cup, so it is not a place we are scared to go. We are looking forward to it."

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