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England see off Wales at Twickers

Sun, 09 Mar 2014 16:52
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England's first victory over Wales in four matches

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England scored the only two tries of the match as they beat Wales 29-18 at Twickenham to claim the Triple Crown.

It was England's first victory over Wales in four matches and keeps their hopes of winning the Six Nations alive.

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth, according to the Sermon on the Mount, but it does not say that they will keep the Six Nations Championship. The Welsh were meek at Twickenham, England were not and England won the Triple Crown and could still inherit the championship

There were only 11 points separating the two sides in the end but in fact England deserved far more than that. The gap between the two was a gulf, so much so that England could eschew a kick at goal for the line-out opportunity to score a try.

Twickenham was an intense and noisy place. There were no meek people in white and at the final whistle the white flags waved on high were not for surrender but for triumph, a richly deserved triumph.

England started the game with great zest. Wales did not have that zest. They went through the motions but almost apologetically. It was just the long-range boot of Leigh Halfpenny that kept them as close as they ended - close but far too far off.

One of the big differences that spoke of the difference in intensity and concentration was the protection of the tackle ball. Even at the end Wales were losing it prodigally but England kept theirs tight, a prized possession.

In the end it was two tries to nil, but it could have been more. England had chances, Wales just one and then Jamie Roberts grubbered the ball into the in-goal for a comfortable grounding and drop-oui. That was possibly the nadir of Welsh performance which contained a lot of profitless kicking.

England were eager to grab chances to counterattack and their kicking was much more contestable.

The first run was by Mike Brown. The second run was from a tapped penalty in his own half by Danny Care. Then burly David Wilson burst away and Chris Robshaw carried it on to near the Welsh posts. Wales were penalised in front of their posts and Care tapped again and scored such an easy try, not a hand laid on him as he flashed past comatose Welshmen. 7-0 after 5 minutes.

When Courtney Lawes was penalised at a tackle/ruck, Halfpenny goaled. 7-3 after 8 minutes. There were three more penalties one against Gethin Jenkins at a scrum - the first of four such penalties against him. Then Lawes was again penalised at a tackle, Rhys Webb at a tackle and Jack Nowell at a tackle. All of that made the score 13-9. Farrell was not having to kick as long as Halfpenny was.

England were on the attack when Richard Hibbard threw into a line-out. He threw clean over the line-out and England attacked. Jonny May raced infield and then England went left where Billy Twelvetrees pushed a grubber into the Welsh in-goal and Luther Burrell dived on the ball for a try in the left corner, which unerring Farrell converted. 20-9 after 34 minutes.

When Dylan Hartley was again penalised, this time at a tackle, Halfpenny goaled and when Hartley was offside, there was a roll of booing over Twickenham, an unpleasant sound, unworthy of the place but again Halfpenny goaled. 20-15 which was the half-time score. It was a score that did not seem at all fair to England's effort and superiority.

Wales started the second half with greater energy but then Jenkins was again penalised at a scrum and Rhys Priestland dropped a high kick. The energy seemed to seep away.

Another scrum penalty and Farrell made it 23-15

Wales attacked with Alex Cuthbert prominent but Roberts frittered the chance away. Webb had a dart but lost the ball a long way forward in a tackle that crocked him. Brown snatched up the ball and started a counterattack that saw Nowell racing down the tight deep into Welsh territory.

Another scrum, another penalty and this time a yellow card for Jenkins. 26-15 after 54 minutes. When Hartley infringed Halfpenny scored and when Jonathan Davies infringed Farrell scored. 29-18 after 58 minutes. There was no doubt who was going to win. In fact for the last 75 minutes of the match the victor was not in doubt.

Wales attacked but Priestland lost the ball forward and Brown counterattacked. Wales attacked down the right and then went wide left to North and lost the ball and England started a long attacking which Twelvetrees and Lawes were prominent. Burrell was over in the right corner as Halfpenny tackled him but the brave fullback's tackle was enough to force a Burrell foot onto the touchline.

And the game played out with England in an easy ascendancy.

Then Chris Robshaw climbed the congratulatory stairs to receive the Triple Crown - for victory over the other three Home Unions. England won it first in 1883 but it did not become a tangible trophy till 2006, and it's a plate, not a crown.

Man of the Match: Wales had Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton but England had many, many more. We considered the spark of Danny Care, the dominance of Courtney Lawes, the dedication of Chris Robshaw, the effective calm of Owen Farrell and so on, and then we decided that our Man of the Match was fullback Mike Brown.

Moment of the Match: Care's audacious first try while all Wales slumbered.

Villain of the Match: Nobody, not even serial offenders such as Gethin Jenkins and Dylan Hartley.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries:
Care, Burrell
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 5

For Wales:
Pens:
Halfpenny 6

Teams

England:
15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (captain), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Dave Attwood, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Ford, 23 Alex.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams.

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

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