Wales claim the Triple Crown after a huge victory over England
A 40-24 victory for Wales over England at the Principality Stadium, all but ended England’s hopes of retaining the Six Nations.
Coming into this game, Wales had their tails up, with victories over Ireland and Scotland in their opening two fixtures of this year’s competition.
But history has favoured England in this fixture, with the Welsh winning only one of their previous seven Six Nations matches against the Red Rose.
The Welsh Dragons had made five changes from their tight victory over Scotland, with the major one being George North’s return to the side from injury.
In doing so, North becomes the youngest ever player to win 100 caps in international rugby, at the age of 28.
The home side got off to a strong start when a combination of a controversial call from the referee, Pascal Gauzere and quick thinking from Welsh fly-half Dan Biggar, caught England out.
A short penalty from Biggar, set free Josh Adams on the wing who simply placed it down for the first try of the evening.
There was controversy again when Wales doubled their try count, after a lengthy check between the officials.
It had appeared that the in form winger, Louis Rees-Zammit had knocked it on before Liam Williams pounced on the loose ball to score the try. However, the referees viewed the try as legal and the Welsh extended their lead.
England did manage to pull a try back before half time, to reduce the deficit.
Anthony Watson powered his way through several Welsh tackles to score a fine try. However, unlike Biggar, Owen Farrell was unable to convert.
Farrell did manage to score a penalty on the stroke of half time, to reduce the gap between the two home nations to three points, with Wales narrowly ahead.
Coming into the second 40 minutes, you would expect England to be the side on the attack. But it was actually Wayne Pivac’s side who extended their lead, through a Kieran Hardy try.
A quick penalty from the scrum-half, caught the England defence out again and the Scarlets man cruised over the line, for a third Welsh try.
Once again this was converted, but this time by Callum Sheedy after he replaced Biggar, who went off with a suspected injury.
Eddie Jones’ side fought back, when scrum-half Ben Youngs broke free to snipe clear and touch the ball down.
A crucial Owen Farrell conversion levelled the scores at 24-24, with 20 minutes to go in this intense battle.
In the end it was silly errors that cost England, giving away three unnecessary penalties.
All three were excellently executed by Sheedy, who did not look overshadowed by the occasion in the slightest.
The game was killed off in the dying minutes of the encounter, after second row replacement Cory Hill emerged from the scrum, to help seal the deal.
For England, the focus will now be on finishing the tournament with pride, as they face two challenging upcoming fixtures against France and Ireland.
On the other hand, Wales have the Six Nations and grand slam in their sights, with their next contest coming in two weeks against Italy.
The final weekend could be magical, as they will be welcomed by France, the only other side so far not to lose a game
Written by Matt Johns