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Wood and England still using pain of 2013

England’s most recent memories against Wales are happy ones but Northampton Saint Tom Wood admits their chastening defeat of 2013 is still a factor for the Red Rose.

Two-and-a-half years ago, Stuart Lancaster’s side travelled to Cardiff knowing victory would see them clinch a Six Nations Grand Slam.

Instead they were humbled as a rampant second-half showing from the hosts took them to a 30-3 triumph and the retention of their title.

England exorcised some old wounds earlier this year with a 21-16 victory at the Millennium Stadium but as the two countries prepare to face off at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, Saints flanker Wood is staying grounded.

“I hope we don’t forget that Cardiff defeat,” said the 28-year-old. “We have done pretty well home and away against Wales since then and we learned a lot that day, not only about how to play rugby but about using emotion.

“We went into that 2013 game chasing the Grand Slam and they went into it in pretty mediocre form but they came together and were determined not to allow us to do the Slam in Cardiff.

“On the back of that loss, we have earmarked this fixture because our pride was severely damaged that day.

“I don’t think we played that badly and were in the fight for 50 minutes, then the floodgates opened. A lot of us paid a heavy price — including Lions selection.

“We suffered that day and we don’t want to go through that again. It is something anyone who was there that day has never forgotten. It will live with us and, hopefully, inspire us.”

England and Wales each picked up maximum points in their Pool A openers with bonus-point wins over Fiji and Uruguay respectively.

Wales have been struck down with a handful of injuries, while England boast home advantage at Twickenham but Wood is not underestimating Warren Gatland’s charges.

He added: “Stuart (Lancaster) has talked about what it means to be English and reconnect with that identity and use a sense of national pride to our advantage. 

“I think that has stood us in good stead in this competition and we felt the weight of it on Friday and, hopefully, again this weekend.

“Our win in Cardiff this year fills us with confidence but it doesn’t work like that. If we are in the fight, we will back our fitness, shape and structure to break them down eventually.

“We are going to have to be switched on from minute one and I expect them to play a powerful game with a heavy back line and we will have to stop their momentum.”

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