Twickenham, Saturday 25th February
England 12-19 Wales
England: Pens Owen Farrell 4
Wales: Try Scott Williams 1
Pens: Leigh Halfpenny 4, Con Halfpenny
In a nutshell:
Wales won their first ever Triple Crown at Twickenham in a compelling encounter that gave the 82,000 crowd drama from the kick-off to the very final play of the game. Wales had started strongest with George North seeing daylight early on until he was felled by a David Strettle ankle tap but England gained a foothold in the game to finish the first-half stronger with Manu Tuilagi’s midfield bursts keeping Wales on the back foot. Twenty year-old Owen Farrell gave England a 9-6 lead at the break with three penalties to Leigh Halfpenny’s two. In the second-half England continued to exert pressure on Wales and Rhys Priestland was yellow carded for an offside offence allowing Farrell to stretch Engand’s lead to 12-6. A man down, Wales rallied, with Leigh Halfpenny converting a penalty of his own to bring the Welsh within three points. Another penalty from the full-back with ten minutes to go clawed the score back to 12-12 to set up a grandstand finish. In the 75th minute Scott Williams dotted down, yet still England pressed and David Strettle was close to a score at the death to leave fans debating a thriller deep into the Twickenham night.
With the scores level, Scott Williams, who had replaced the injured Jamie Roberts at half-time, atoned for an earlier chance to put Leigh Halfpenny away in the corner by ripping the ball off Courtney Lawes in midfield and kicking into space behind the England midfield. With a generous bounce, he gathered and outpaced the covering England defence to touch down to the delight of his team-mates.
Honourable mentions must go to England’s Manu Tuilagi and Owen Farrell who will no doubt be fixtures in the England midfield for a decade and, but I’m plumping for Leigh Halfpenny. Okay, he missed one kickable penalty but he ran with purpose, tidied up any loose ball with clever positioning and showed remarkable bravery to stop David Strettle from touching down in the 80th minute. Elsewhere Wales’ three amigos, Dan Lydiate, Toby Faletau and captain Sam Warburton tackled and harried themselves to standstill.
Room for improvement:
It was a famous win, but the Wales lineout continues to misfire. Wales lost two key lineouts when under pressure failing to secure their own ball. As for England, their lack of cutting edge let them down at the end. David Strettle will be ruing his failure to ground the ball in a manner that convinced the TMO and despite a much improved peformance, they remained scoreless. Oh, but what a game!
The winners: Wales head coach, Warren Gatland
“I said to the players before the game they had a chance to create history. They’ve done that and I’m delighted. We showed signs of great composure and character, that’s a sign of a team which will get better in time.”
The losers: England head coach, Stuart Lancaster
“There are lots of lessons we can learn but games at this level are going to be won by very fine margins. It’s up to us to learn those lessons and move on and that’s part of team development.
Wales completed 99 tackles missing nine for a 91% tackle conversion rate. Wales’ top tackler was Dan Lydiate with 14 tackles
England made 110 tackles, missing 12 tackles for a 90% tackle rate. Their top tackler was Geoff Parling with 19 tackles.
England’s top carrier was Ben Foden who made 113 metres. Wales’ top carrier was George North who made 78 metres.
Wales made three linebreaks to England’s one.
England made 14 errors to Wales’ nine
England lost one lineout to Wales’ two
Match highlights http://bbc.in/wxZgBE
England: B Foden (M Brown 78); C Ashton, M Tuilagi, B Barritt, D Strettle; O Farrell (T Flood 66), L Dickson (B Youngs 61); A Corbisiero (M Stevens 66), D Hartley (R Webber, 73), D Cole, M Botha (C Lawes 61), G Parling, T Croft, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan.
Wales: L Halfpenny, A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts (S Williams 41), G North, R Priestland, M Phillips, G Jenkins, K Owens, A Jones, AW Jones (R Jones 54), I Evans, D Lydiate, S Warburton, T Faletau
Referee: Steve Walsh
Match attendance: 81,598