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Shaun Edwards denies Wales will have psychological edge over England

Published 27/02/2016

Wales head coach Warren Gatland says Wales will relish the challenge of a potential RBS 6 Nations title showdown against England.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland says Wales will relish the challenge of a potential RBS 6 Nations title showdown against England.

Shaun Edwards has poured cold water on suggestions that Wales might enjoy a psychological advantage in the white-hot cauldron of an intense Six Nations battle with fierce rivals England.

Wales will return to Twickenham in a fortnight's time, just 168 days after their dramatic 28-25 triumph left England demoralised and hurtling towards World Cup pool stage humiliation.

This time, the prize is Six Nations points and potentially one hand on silverware in what should be the pivotal game of a tournament that Wales last won three years ago and England two years before that.

Asked about any mental edge from the World Cup, Lancastrian Edwards said: "You know what, I have never thought that any one game has anything to do with the next.

"That was proven in 2013. We obviously won convincingly (in Cardiff), but in the next two games England beat us. And in the game after that, we beat them.

"So, I don't think any one game can be so psychologically damaging that it would hurt another performance three or four months later."

One area where Wales will require a huge improvement from Friday night's 19-10 victory over France is their discipline, having conceded 14 penalties against Les Bleus.

And Wales assistant coach Edwards is well aware that a goalkicking marksman of England centre Owen Farrell's quality will punish them if he is afforded opportunities.

"We will look at each individual penalty (conceded against France) and see if there is anything common that was occurring," Edwards added.

"If we give that many penalties away against England, I am pretty sure that with the way young Farrell is kicking at the moment - he is pretty dead-eye.

"They also have George Ford who can kick as well. So, we will have to keep them out.

"Their tactical kicking game and their aerial game is probably more testing than the French. We definitely won the aerial battle in the first-half against France.

"England have got very big ball-carriers in the back-row. They have a very athletic pack.

"We will have to up our game and go to another level against England. We will be playing against a very formidable opponent.

"The England game is massive. The fact that we actually drew a game (in this season's Six Nations) doesn't really matter that much because we would still have had to beat England to win it.

"The game against England will be a very tactical game. I have watched England a couple of times, and they don't actually run it that much from their own half.

"They pepper your back-three with high bombs, and then chase up quickly and counter-drive those rucks.

"It will be a tactical game, but also a game where sometimes you have to deliver in your own 22, defensively. We will concentrate on that over the next two weeks."

Wales are no strangers to winning at Twickenham during head coach Warren Gatland's reign, having emerged victorious there in 2008, 2012 and 2015, and a strong defensive performance will be key if they are to achieve another triumph on English soil.

Until captain Guilhem Guirado's consolation try two minutes from time, France could find no way through the red wall, despite battering away for long periods in the second-half.

"I thought we had a bit of aggression about us in defence," Wales defence specialist Edwards said. "Our collision dominance was very high.

"It was nice to see the French attack quite frustrated at times. That's what you want. I thought it was a step up from our first two games (against Ireland and Scotland), particularly our collision dominance and the way we slowed the ball up.

"We probably won the advantage line battle."

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