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Exeter Chief Francis to start for Wales against England

Exeter Chief Tomas Francis will make his first-ever World Cup start on Saturday against England after Warren Gatland picked his Wales side for their crunch Pool A clash.

Gatland’s side is packed full of Aviva Premiership Rugby talent with Northampton Saints winger George North and Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts in the back-line.

While in the forward pack Francis – who will win his fourth cap at Twickenham on Saturday – is joined by Wasps lock Bradley Davies.

Bath Rugby fly-half Rhys Priestland is also named as a replacement for Wales. 

Gareth Davies will start at scrum-half  with Lloyd Williams is on the bench, meaning Mike Phillips is not in the match 23.

Francis starts at tight-head prop, Scott Baldwin at hooker with Gethin Jenkins – playing in his fourth World Cup – at loose-head, while Samson Lee is named on the bench.

Full-back Liam Williams has recovered from his thigh knock, with North and Hallam Amos – preferred to Alex Cuthbert – on the wings.

Captain Sam Warburton packs down at open-side flanker in a tried and tested breakaway trio of Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau, so Justin Tipuric provides back-row cover on the bench.

Alun Wyn Jones and Bradley Davies are the lock pairing, while Roberts and Scott Williams line up in the centres to take on England rivals Sam Burgess and Brad Barritt.

The winners of the Group A game will take a massive stride towards qualifying for the quarter-finals, with the losers realistically needing to beat Australia to avoid an early exit from the tournament.

"Saturday is a huge occasion for both teams and for the tournament and we are really looking forward to it," said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

"Both sides kicked their tournament off with a bonus-point win but we know we will need to step up at Twickenham on Saturday."
 
Wales team to play England:
 
Liam Williams (Scarlets); George North (Northampton Saints), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Harlequins), Hallam Amos (Newport Gwent Dragons); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Scott Baldwin (Ospreys), Tomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Wasps), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons)

Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Aaron Jarvis (Ospreys), Samson Lee (Scarlets), Luke Charteris (Racing 92), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Priestland (Bath Rugby), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues).
 

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