Wales elevate the Triple Crown – now for the Grand Slam?
Smarts, not smashes. Rugby is so typically considered as a battle of brawn however it was brains that proved decisive as Wales beat England 40-24 on this Six Nations fixture in Cardiff.
Sure, there was controversy over Wales’ two first-half tries – extra of which later – however the hosts received this match, and with it the Triple Crown, within the closing 20 minutes, not the primary 30.
When England drew stage via a Ben Youngs attempt, transformed by Owen Farrell, halfway via the second half, they appeared in a robust place to shut out a win and get their title bid again on observe.
As an alternative, a succession of penalties allowed Wales to not solely relieve stress in their very own half however pull clear on the scoreboard as Callum Sheedy was solely too completely happy to bisect the posts – and so they completed with a flourish when Cory Hill scored a bonus-point attempt.
Had England stored calm and constructed stress, somewhat than attempting to drive issues, it might be them going into their closing two video games with the trophy of their sights. Now it’s Wales who ought to see off Italy in spherical 4 and head to Paris in a number of weeks bidding for yet one more Grand Slam – they have already got extra of these than another staff within the Six Nations period.
Self-discipline, or lack thereof, was an issue for England towards Scotland of their opening fixture and it was once more right here as they conceded 14 penalties to Wales’ 9. They will really feel onerous accomplished by in terms of these first-half attempt selections however that isn’t the place the sport was received and misplaced.
Matt Dawson’s description of the late flurry of offences as “verging on senseless” on BBC Radio 5Live appeared apt. Related accusations have been levelled at England in terms of their techniques and incapacity to adapt, to seek out other ways of breaking down opponents when breaking via them doesn’t work. Slightly than assume their manner out of hassle, they performed their manner into it, frequently being pinged by the referee.
The irony is that England appeared extra harmful in Cardiff than they’ve for months, their attacking sport sparking into life. Criticised for his or her dependency on the boot in latest months, it was their dealing with that stood out on this match. They nonetheless kicked a good bit – and with extra selection – however it was with ball in hand that they appeared most harmful.
Fast palms alongside the road noticed them push deep into Wales’ territory, albeit that Jonny Might was marshalled nicely by Louis Rees-Zammit and George North. It was one among these fluid actions that led to Youngs dummying over and momentum gave the impression to be with the guests – however then got here penalty after penalty, Wales took benefit and Alun Wyn Jones lifted the Triple Crown.
Again to these attempt selections. The primary one got here when Pascal Gauzere gave Owen Farrell time to speak to his gamers however not an excessive amount of as Dan Biggar kicked crossfield whereas England had been nonetheless chatting beneath the posts and Josh Adams plucked the ball out of the air to attain.
It’s straightforward to see why Farrell remonstrated with Gauzere afterwards however the referee had referred to as time again on and England ought to have been extra conscious of what was taking place 20 metres away.
The second they’ll really feel extra aggrieved by. Rees-Zammit’s failure to assemble an Adams kick wasn’t dominated a knock-on by the TMO, so Liam Williams’s subsequent attempt stood – however it appeared solely the officers didn’t see a knock-on. Even Rees-Zammit appeared stunned on the name. Rugby is a sport of nuances however, in my opinion, that was the flawed resolution.
To reiterate, although, it wasn’t these selections that misplaced England the sport. They really reacted positively to get themselves again in rivalry, an Anthony Watson attempt to a Farrell penalty making it 17-14 at half-time.
They switched off within the forty eighth minute when Kieran Hardy took a fast faucet to dart over – one of many first stuff you be taught in rugby is to not flip your again and some England gamers did simply that – however once more they got here again.
At 24-24 England appeared the extra more likely to go on and win, however all these infringements mounted up as they appeared nearly too desperate to get the subsequent rating. Slightly than a gentle, methodical method, their ill-discipline launched the stress on Wales, who had been in a position to shut out the sport.
Now for a Grand Slam?
How shortly issues can change in rugby. Wales got here into this championship with many predicting a fifth-place end, however as an alternative they may go to Rome in two weeks assured of creating it 4 wins from 4.
It’s all build up properly to a Grand Slam ‘decider’ in Paris, though who is aware of if France could have performed their 4 video games by then with such uncertainty across the rescheduling of the Scotland fixture. Wales have received there earlier than in 2005 and 2019 en path to Slams – can they do it for the third time this yr?
Individuals have described Wales’ 2021 run as ‘fortunate’, following the crimson playing cards towards the opposition of their wins over Eire and Scotland then the controversial tries on this match.
Firstly, I feel ‘luck’ might be an inappropriate phrase when referring to the crimson playing cards given these sendings off relate to defending gamers from brian harm. Secondly, Wales have proven a steely mentality to grind out wins in these opening video games after which had the smarts to do the identical in Cardiff.
Wales definitely don’t look pretty much as good a facet as this present France staff – not many groups do proper now – however right here’s a optimistic omen for Wales followers: Cory Hill additionally scored a attempt towards England when Wales accomplished the clear sweep in 2019.
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