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Lancaster: England ready to deliver

Stuart Lancaster insists England are poised to deliver against Wales at Twickenham as the biggest match of his two-year reign as head coach draws near.

Victory over the reigning champions would secure a first Triple Crown since 2003 and propel England into RBS 6 Nations title contention when they face Italy in Rome on the climatic day of the Championship.

It would also land a telling psychological blow ahead of the rivals' Twickenham showdown in the pool stage of the 2015 World Cup, with Sunday marking Wales' final visit to the venue before that meeting.

Defeat, however, would extend Celtic mastery of the fixture to four successive wins, offer sight of an unprecedented third successive Championship title and damage England's self-belief.

Lancaster, who is seeking his first triumph over Wales in three attempts, knows the stakes are high.

"It's a big game and we need to make sure we deliver on the field," Lancaster said.

"All the talking is fine, it's the team that delivers on the day that matters.

"We respect Wales as opponents, the quality and experience they have and how well they are set up. It will be a tough game, but we're ready.

"I understand all the context around this particular game with the World Cup coming and the importance of getting a win, but I still believe the best team on the day wins.

"We play Wales twice before the World Cup and Wales play Australia (who share Group A with England and Wales), so I'm sure psychologically there will be some things there."

England have named Ben Morgan at number eight in place of the injured Billy Vunipola, who is to miss the rest of the Six Nations with a sprained ankle, and picked Tom Johnson as back-row cover on the bench.

In total there are six survivors from the starting XV overwhelmed 30-3 in Cardiff last year, denying England the Grand Slam at the final hurdle.

The crushing nature of that result has haunted the squad ever since and despite going on to deliver notable victories over Australia, Argentina and Ireland, the Millennium Stadium debacle must be avenged.

"You use every defeat as motivation on how to improve. We lost to New Zealand in the autumn and that was difficult to take, as was losing to France last month," Lancaster said.

"But we've bounced back from those games and learned, liked we learned from Wales last year. We've move on since then."

Wales are known for the power-based rugby favoured by head coach Warren Gatland, dubbed 'Warrenball', which sees waves of runners launched at the opposition defence.

Lancaster, however, insists there is much more to the champions than a route-one approach and is preparing England to expect the unexpected at Twickenham.

"Wales have got a good plan, but there's a bit more to their game than people give them credit for," Lancaster said.

"On the day the gainline's important, but I'd be very surprised if they don't have one or two tricks up their sleeve.

"They've come up with 12-man line-outs and various other things in the past, so I'm sure there will be things coming our way."

Captain Chris Robshaw believes England are favourites to prevail - bookmakers agree, installing England as odds-on winners - but Lancaster refuses to give Wales any ammunition before the match.

"I don't bet so I don't play the favourites game," he said.


From Belfast Telegraph