England head to Cardiff on Saturday sitting pretty at the top of the Six Nations table and with momentum on their side.
An impressive opening weekend win in Dublin was followed up with a demolition job on France and there is a growing sense that the Grand Slam is theirs for the taking.
Wales, too, begin the game unbeaten and with a clean sweep a possibility but without the swell of expectation given the underwhelming nature of their wins over France and Italy.
History is on the side of the hosts, however. Since the Second World War, Wales have beaten England in the final year of each decade from a 9-3 win in 1949 to the 23-15 triumph a decade ago.
Such is the emotion that Wales-England Test matches generate that form often goes out of the window, and many of the 74,000 fans who pack the Principality Stadium on Saturday will do so in the belief that a home win will follow.
Eddie Jones didn’t wait for an invitation to launch the first few psychological grenades ahead of Saturday’s clash. France had barely started the inquest into their 44-8 defeat at Twickenham when the England coach lauded the current Wales team as the best in history while suggesting that he didn’t treat the Principality Stadium as a fortress.
If both comments were designed to rile those west of the Severn Bridge, the latter does at least hold water. Wales have won 61.48 per cent of their home games since Warren Gatland took charge 11 years ago.
That is not a record to be ashamed of but New Zealand, England, Ireland, France and South Africa all boast higher win percentages on their own turf in that time.
For Jones, Wales hold little fear with the Australian coach having won all four Tests against Gatland’s side since arriving at Twickenham in the wake of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He also beat them once as Japan coach when they visited during the summer of 2013 – although his Kiwi counterpart was of course with the British and Irish Lions in Australia at the time.
Gatland does not have the best record against England. Having started with back-to-back wins over Wales’ closest neighbours, his side have picked up just four wins in the subsequent 13 Tests.
But under the New Zealander Wales have a knack of winning the ones that matter. They blew England away in 2013 to steal the Championship and their last victory in this fixture was the crucial World Cup clash at Twickenham. Gatland and his staff will have their players prepared.
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