Guinness Six Nations sides ready for final Autumn Nations Cup group games

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Guinness Six Nations sides are gearing up for the penultimate weekend of Autumn Nations Cup action, with five teams battling it out to finish as high as they can in the group stage ahead of Finals weekend.

Guinness Six Nations sides are gearing up for the penultimate weekend of Autumn Nations Cup action, with five teams battling it out to finish as high as they can in the group stage ahead of Finals weekend.

The inaugural year of the competition has treated the rugby world to some classics already and with plenty to play for across the continent this weekend, we could be in store for plenty more.

England head to Llanelli knowing a win would seal top spot in Group A, but victories for Ireland and Wales could throw proceedings up in the air.

Italy will look to upset the odds as they go in search of victory in France for the first time in 23 years, which could give Scotland a ticket to next Saturday’s 1st/2nd-place final.


Wales v England – 16:00 (GMT)

Eddie Jones says he is expecting a tough battle as England head to the “heart and soul” of Welsh rugby on Saturday to face Wayne Pivac’s side at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli.

The Australian head coach has recalled George Ford to his familiar fly-half role, meaning captain Owen Farrell moves into the centre alongside Henry Slade in the only change to the side which beat Ireland 24-7 last time out.

There is room for a returning Anthony Watson on the bench, with the Bath back fit and ready after suffering an injury against Italy three weeks ago.

England have been victorious in six of their last eight encounters against Wales but have lost on each of the past two occasions they have crossed the Severn Bridge, including a 21-13 reverse which helped Wales to Grand Slam glory in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.

Wales have made multiple changes to the side that beat Georgia last weekend, with talismanic captain Alun Wyn Jones returning to the starting XV.

Louis Rees-Zammit, try-scorer on his first international start last Saturday, retains his spot on the wing and is joined by Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny in the back three.

Liam Williams and Justin Tipuric sit out through injury, while Aaron Wainwright and James Botham keep their places in the line-up after impressing against Georgia.

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Lloyd Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 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; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie Georgia, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Jonny Hill, Ben Earl, Jack Willis, Dan Robson, Anthony Watson.

France v Italy – 20:10 (GMT)

France know that victory in Paris will be enough to top Group B, but Italy have a point to prove having come up short against Scotland a fortnight ago.

Fabien Galthie has handed out five debuts ahead of the contest at the Stade de France and given a start to back-rower Sekou Macalou, who will win his first cap in three years.

Backs Jean-Pascal Barraque and Gabin Villiere will both kick off their international careers against the Azzurri on Saturday evening.

Second row duo Killian Geraci and Baptiste Pesenti will also represent Les Bleus for the first time, as well as Toulouse front-rower Rodrigue Neti.

While Italy are unable to top the group, they can leapfrog France with victory in Paris as they look to build on a positive performance in Florence in Round One.

Luca Bigi leads the side once more, with uncapped forwards Cristan Stoian and Michele Lamaro both named on the bench.

Italy head coach Franco Smith has said the week extra in preparation helped “increase Italy’s desire” as they hope to win in Paris for the first time ever – and only the second time on French soil.

France: Brice Dulin; Teddy Thomas, Jean-Pascal Barraque, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere; Matthieu Jalibert, Baptiste Serin (capt); Rodrigue Neti, Peato Mauvaka, Dorian Aldegheri, Killian Geraci, Baptiste Pesenti, Cameron Woki, Sekou Macalou, Anthony Jelonch.

Replacements: Teddy Baubigny, Hassane Kolignar, Uini Atonio, Cyril Cazeaux, Swan Rebbadj, Baptiste Couilloud, Louis Carbonel, Yoram Moefana.

Italy: Matteo Minozzi; Jacopo Trulla, Marco Zanon, Carlo Canna, Luca Sperandio; Paolo Garbisi, Marcello Violi; Danilo Fischetti, Luca Bigi (capt), Giosue Zilocchi, Marco Lazzaroni, Niccolo Cannone, Maxime Mbanda, Johan Meyer, Braam Steyn.

Replacements: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, Pietro Ceccarelli, Cristian Stoian, Michele Lamaro, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Federico Mori.


Ireland v Georgia – 14:00 (GMT)

Defeat to England last weekend leaves Group A out of Ireland’s hands and they will know come kick-off on Sunday afternoon what is required to top the pool.

Georgia fought valiantly against Wales last weekend and will seek improvement in Dublin as they build on the positives gained so far in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Andy Farrell has made numerous changes to the side and given Billy Burns his first start in the fly-half role, partnering Conor Murray at scrum-half.

After taking over captaincy from Johnny Sexton last week against England, lock James Ryan will resume duties at the Aviva Stadium and lines up alongside Ulsterman Iain Henderson in the second row.

Centre Shane Daly could make his debut for Ireland from the bench, with the Munster back fitting into the squad “exceptionally well”, according to Farrell.

Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili has made six changes to the side beaten 18-0 in Wales last weekend as his side, who have gone scoreless in their opening two games, look to add cutting edge.

Soso Matiashvili returns at full-back, with Tamaz Mchedlidze making his first start of the tournament on the wing, and there are four changes in the pack as Shalva Mamukashvili, Nodar Cheishvili, Lasha Jaiani and Tornike Jalagonia come in.

Ireland: Jacob Stockdale, Hugo Keenan, Chris Farrell, Stuart McCloskey, Keith Earls; Billy Burns, Conor Murray; Finlay Bealham, Rob Herring, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, James Ryan (capt), Tadhg Beirne, Will Connors, CJ Stander.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Cian Healy, John Ryan, Quinn Roux, Peter O’Mahony, Kieran Marmion, Ross Byrne, Shane Daly.

Georgia: Soso Matiashvili, Akaki Tabutsadze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Merab Sharikadze (c), Tamaz Mchedlidze, Tedo Abzhandadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze; Mikheil Nariashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Beka Gigashvili, Nodar Cheishvili, Lasha Jaiani, Beka Saginadze, Tornike Jalagonia, Beka Gorgadze.

Replacements: Giorgi Chkoidze, Lexo Kaulashvili, Giorgi Melikidze, Giorgi Javakhia, Mikheil Gachechiladze, Mikheil Alania, Demur Tapladze, David Niniashvili.