Rugby Union

England vs Wales: Combined XV

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Ahead of their pivotal World Cup clash on Saturday, Warren Gatland has claimed that his Wales side are 'underdogs' due to the game being played at the home of English rugby, Twickenham.

Despite his claims, we've put together an England and Wales combined XV:

15. Mike Brown - England

England's most consistent performer in the last two years. Deceptively quick and always manages to beat the first man. Battle with Leigh Halfpenny would be a matter of personal preference but is ahead of replacement Liam Williams.

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14. Anthony Watson - England

The Bath winger is arguably England's most exciting talent. Electric feet and excellent under the high ball due to experience at fullback. Alex Cuthbert seemed some way short of his best in the warm ups and has potentially been worked out.

13. Jonathan Joseph - England

Very close call with Scott Williams for outside centre. Where Williams influences with physicality and directness, Joseph's guile and elusiveness has transformed England's backline. If fit, British and Irish Lion, Jonathon Davies would be a certain pick.

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12. Jamie Roberts - Wales

One of the easier calls of this combined side. Though Brad Barritt is tough and defensively outstanding, he lacks Roberts' dynamism in attack which is crucial to Gatland's game plan. This match up will do much to decide Saturday's clash.

11. George North - Wales

Jonny May has improved almost immeasurably. However, this is still straightforward. Still only 23, North is a star of world rugby and unstoppable on his day. He produced a promising performance against Italy, following repeated absences from concussion, in the final warm-up game, that was ignored amidst injuries.

10. George Ford - England

A difficult decision but the Bath stand-off edges it over both Dan Biggar and Owen Farrell due to creativity. An excellent distributor, Ford possesses composure in possession that allows him to create opportunities for himself and others. Also an excellent kicker out of hand. Ironically, Stuart Lancaster has chosen to drop Ford in favour of Farrell for the upcoming game.

9. Richard Wigglesworth - England

My personal choice for the scrum-half role, though Ben Youngs will probably get the nod. Excellent box-kicker and passer; he brings tempo, organisation and reliability to a temperamental England side. Rhys Webb would have walked in but for his desperate luck.

8. Taulupe Faletau - Wales

More consistent than either Ben Morgan or his cousin Billy Vunipola though not necessarily as explosive. Gets the nod for ability to last 80 mins and superior work at the breakdown.

7. Justin Tipuric - Wales

Following England's alarming inability to retain the ball at the breakdown on Friday night, where they conceded 16 turnovers, I would expect Gatland to play two open sides. As well as being a genuine 'fetcher', Tipuric is an effective link player and possesses genuine pace. Was superb in The 30-3 hammering of 2013.

6. Sam Warburton - Wales

The Welsh captain continues to be underrated by many outside of Wales. Outstanding over the ball he is also a powerful runner and composed leader. More influential than counterpart Chris Robshaw, whose stats exaggerate his effect on tight games, while Tom Wood, has never nailed his selection over James Haskell.

5. Joe Launchbury - England

He has taken time to recover from a serious neck injury but looked back to form in his cameo on Friday. Good in the line-out, the Wasps lock has superb hands and is effective at the breakdown. Luke Charteris' work rate remains staggering.

4. Alun Wyn Jones - Wales

If fit, a guaranteed choice. Inspirational figure who like Charteris gets through a huge amount of work. A good carrier, the Lions skipper for the deciding test, has a seismic effect on those around him.

3. Dan Cole - England

Not the certainty he should be. Has looked vulnerable in the scrum in recent games and hasn't influenced at the breakdown like he can. Still a key figure in the English side and will come good. Samson Lee is still relatively unproven at international level and is short of match practice.

2. Tom Youngs - England

Such a pity his superb work in the loose is undermined by his technical quality in the set piece. His tackling, carrying and efficiency when clearing people out at the rucks still sees him get the nod. Dylan Hartley and Richard Hibbard would get the vote if either were available.

1. Joe Marler - England

Tight decision over the hugely experienced Gethin Jenkins. However, the loosehead is no longer quite the player he was and endured a torrid time on his last visit to Twickenham: getting repeatedly penalised and eventually sin-binned. Marler is also experiencing a dip in form but it wasn't so long ago he was being mooted for a World XV.

Outcome: England 9 Wales 6

Is there any changes you would make to the combined XV? Give YOUR opinion in the comment box below

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Topics:
Rugby Union
Wales Rugby
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup

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