Ford At 10 For England In Only Change For Wales In Llanelli
Wales has retained eight players from the experimental side which beat Georgia last weekend to face England on Saturday in Llanelli in the Autumn Nations Cup.
It would probably have been nine but fullback Liam Williams was ruled out after taking a boot to his mouth in the match and needing 12 stitches. Justin Tipuric, the stand-in captain and openside flanker, was still undergoing concussion protocols after being hit in the face by a swinging forearm.
Beating Georgia 18-0 ended a six-match losing streak. Only seven starters from the 32-9 loss to Ireland nearly two weeks ago were retained.
Props Samson Lee and Wyn Jones were in an all-Scarlets front row with hooker Ryan Elias. Jake Ball will partner with captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second row.
James Botham, the grandson of cricket great Ian who made his debut against Georgia, was unexpectedly retained in the absence of the unavailable Tipuric, Josh Navidi and Ross Moriarty.
Botham will partner with Cardiff Blues clubmate Shane Lewis-Hughes, with Taulupe Faletau at No. 8.
Lloyd Williams was picked ahead of Gareth Davies at scrumhalf, and will pass to veteran Dan Biggar, who has kept in the reserves Callum Sheedy, who had a fine first start against Georgia.
It’s reward for the effort Lloyd has put in,” coach Wayne Pivac said on Thursday. “When he’s there, we’ve played our best rugby.
As for the flyhalves, both will get minutes. Callum will get a significant chunk of the second half.
Johnny Williams and Nick Tompkins remain the midfield after appearing against Georgia, and Louis Rees-Zammit was on the right wing with Williams injured and George North out of form.
Williams absence has also allowed the safe but venerable Leigh Halfpenny to return to fullback.
George Ford is back at flyhalf in the only change to the England XV.
Center Ollie Lawrence suffered a hip problem last weekend as England was battering Ireland 18-7 at Twickenham. Lawrence was replaced by Ford with 12 minutes to go, and England in control at 18-0.
Captain Owen Farrell and Henry Slade have moved out one slot to be the midfield.
An Achilles tendon injury sidelined Ford this autumn until last weekend. He wasnt ready then to start but was recalled in case England got in a tight tussle with Ireland. It didnt.
Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie and back Anthony Watson returned from injuries this week to make the reserves, and flanker Jack Willis, who made his debut against Georgia nearly two weeks ago, was added to give the reserves a 6-2 forwards-backs split.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Lloyd Williams; Taulupe Faletau, James Botham, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Jake Ball, Samson Lee, Ryan Elias, Wyn Jones. Reserves: Elliot Dee, Rhys Carre, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Aaron Wainwright, Rhys Webb, Callum Sheedy, Owen Watkin.
England: Elliot Daly, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell (captain), Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry, Joe Launchbury, Maro Itoje, Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Mako Vunipola. Reserves: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Jack Willis, Dan Robson, Anthony Watson.
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