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Wales smash England to retain title

Sat, 16 Mar 2013 18:44
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It's unreal, it's what dreams are all about
Quote-end

Wales thrashed England by a record-breaking 30-3 at the Millennium Stadium to retain the Six Nations title and deny the visitors a Grand Slam.

Alex Cuthbert's two second-half tries proved decisive in a match Wales had to win by seven points to retain the title for the first time since 1979, provided they maintained their superior try-count.

As it was the defending Grand Slam champions beat a 108-year-old record, surpassing the 25-point gap they achieved in their previous largest winning margin over England - 25-0 back in 1905.

"It's unreal, it's what dreams are all about," said Wales flank Justin Tipuric, who was named man of the match.

"We were outstanding, we all worked so hard, it's brilliant. We knew what we could do, we talked about it all week and we were ready to play since Monday."

Tipuric said Wales's opening defeat at the hands of Ireland had inspired them to their victory.

"We got a lot of bad media. That gave us a kick up the backside, but we all stayed tight."

England coach Stuart Lancaster admitted Wales had been the better side.

"We are gutted. We didn't get the execution right and didn't turn up," he said. "We just weren't good enough. We have no complaints, we couldn't match their physicality."

After building a 12-3 lead early in the second half, through four penalties by fullback Leigh Halfpenny to one from England flyhalf Owen Farrell, Wales surged ahead through a try by Cuthbert

That put them 17-3 in front and minutes later Farrell missed his second penalty in three attempts

Dan Biggar added a drop-goal before Cuthbert stormed in for another try, with flyhalf Biggar completing the rout with a penalty.

This was Wales's second victory in a row over England, with the Welsh the only side to defeat the English in Six Nations action since Lancaster became coach of the Red Rose brigade in 2012.

And the win also saw Wales end a run of five straight defeats at the Millennium Stadium in the most emphatic fashion possible, with the champions not conceding a try in the tournament since the 42nd minute of their opening defeat by Ireland.

Lancaster, who'd seen his side score just one try in their three previous matches, responded to a deeply unconvincing 18-11 win over Italy at Twickenham by making four changes.

He recalled halfbacks Ben Youngs and the fit-again Farrell while up front prop Joe Marler returned and blindside flank Tom Croft made his first Test start in 12 months following a career-threatening neck injury.

Interim Wales head coach Rob Howley lost one captain in Ryan Jones to injury and passed over another in Sam Warburton after the flank indicated he wanted to remain in the ranks following last week's man-of-the-match winning display against Scotland.

Instead fit-again loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins returned to captain Wales for only the fourth time in his 12-year career.

A frantic first half ended with Wales 9-3 in front, through three Halfpenny penalties to one by Farrell, whose first effort crossed after hitting the post, missing with his second attempt.

Early in the second period Wales, in a match played with the stadium's retractable roof shut, laid siege to England's line after centre Jamie Roberts was stopped by No.8 Tom Wood.

Their pressure led to a penalty which Halfpenny converted from wide on the left. Now, for the first time in the match, Wales had a title-winning lead at 12-3.

And they broke the game open in the 57th minute through Cuthbert's first try.

Replacement hooker Ken Owens stripped Wood of the ball in the ruck and Wales worked possession to Cuthbert through scrumhalf Mike Phillips and centre Jonathan Davies.

Cuthbert handed off England wing Mike Brown and completed a 40 metre move.

Halfpenny missed the conversion but Wales were in charge at 17-3.

Shortly afterwards Farrell, poleaxed by Wales No.8 Toby Faletau, missed the ensuing penalty before Biggar piled on the agony for England with a 65th minute drop-goal.

Wales then duly rubbed salt into England's wounds with Cuthbert's second try.

Warburton picked up the ball from the base of a ruck in his own half, brushing aside replacement scrumhalf Danny Care and scything through the cover.

Tipuric carried on the move before drawing the cover to release the onrushing Cuthbert.

Biggar converted as Halfpenny received treatment before the flyhalf added another penalty to seal the rout.

Man of the match: There were heroes across the spread for Wales. Reliable Leigh Halfpenny, who kept the scoreboard ticking over, two-try speedster Alex Cuthbert and Dan Biggar at flyhalf, who arguably enjoyed his most accomplished Test showing.

In the pack captain Gethin Jenkins led from the front and the back row was outstanding both cohesively and individually - any one of Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau would be deserved of the accolade. Our pick is Justin Tipuric, who was exceptional in the collisions and at the breakdown and had a major hand in Cuthbert’s second try.

Moment of the match: The moment that broke the English - Alex Cuthbert outsprinting the cover defence from turnover ball to score the opening try.   

Villain of the match: The entire England side for the way in which they crumbled under pressure.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Tries: Cuthbert 2
Con: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 4, Biggar
DG: Biggar

For England:
Pen: Farrell

Teams:

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Justin Tipuric, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain).
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Aaron Shingler, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 James Hook, 23 Scott Williams.

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Croft, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Dylan Hartley, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), John Lacey (Ireland)
TMO: Marshall Kilgore (Ireland)

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