1. ITV Report

Crunch time for Wales as they face Twickenham Test

Warren Gatland wants a fourth consecutive win over England Photo: PA photo

Wales against England in the Six Nations is never an unimportant affair, and there's everything to play for this year. First and foremost, today's Twickenham clash is vitally important in the context of the Championship - the victors will go into Round 5 knowing they're in with a shot at the title; for the losers, dreams of silverware will be snuffed out for another season. England have the added incentive of a Triple Crown to play for - a mantle they haven't worn since the World Cup winning year of 2003.

Then there's the emotional background. Wales never seem to struggle for passion when playing 'the old enemy.' And, after the stinging slap down suffered by England at the Millennium Stadium last year (the scoreline was 30-3 to Wales, just in case you've forgotten) the home side should have incentive aplenty themselves in the score-settling stakes.

Looking a bit further ahead, there's also the chance to lay down a psychological marker. The next big England-Wales encounter at Twickenham is in Autumn 2015, when the two teams meet in what's set to be a crucial Rugby World Cup group game. If Wales win today they'll not only have four wins on the trot over England to enjoy; they'll also feel they've planted a seed of doubt in the rival camp ahead of that showdown.

Not that the Wales coaching staff are allowing such considerations to enter their mind, not in public anyway. Wales Assistant Coach Rob Howley insists that thoughts are only on today's game:

I think we're just looking to the weekend. It's a Triple Crown game for them, and it's a game that we want to win to stay in the Championship. Psychologically, moving forward - maybe. But who knows what squad we'll have in Rugby World Cup.

– Rob Howley, Wales Assistant Coach
England Coach Stauart Lancaster hasn't yet tasted victory over Wales Credit: PA photo

Both sides have lost one game in the Championship so far: England - perhaps unfortunately - in Paris; Wales - disappointingly - in Dublin. But the English victory over Ireland two weeks ago had many pundits predicting the emergence of a new, mature red rose team. With 12 Lions in their starting side, Wales certainly have the edge in terms of experience; England, exemplified by backs Danny Care and Mike Brown, are hitting impressive form at the right time. Who will prevail in a tumultuous Twickenham atmosphere is tough to predict. But it's sure to be a great spectacle.

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