Six Nations Championship 2021: Wales beat England 40-24 to clinch Triple Crown
Wales clinched the Triple Crown and kept their Grand Slam hopes on course with an at-times controversial 40-24 win over England in Cardiff in Saturday’s Six Nations clash.
The hosts led on the back of tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams, both of which provoked controversy, but England had clawed the deficit back to just three points by the end of the first half thanks to Anthony Watson’s finish and Owen Farrell’s kicking.
Scrum-halves Kieran Hardy and Ben Youngs crossed after the break to make the match level at 24-24, but the kicking of replacement fly-half Callum Sheedy to punish penalties from England and a late score from Cory Hill secured what was ultimately a deserved win for Wayne Pivac’s men.
FT: WAL 40-24 ENG
🏴 #HWFN pic.twitter.com/OE2DqZdiOA
The visitors somewhat set the tone for their afternoon in the opening stages, conceding three penalties early on which allowed Dan Biggar to kick Wales ahead in the sixth minute.
Breaks from Elliot Daly and then Youngs soon after the restart saw England put themselves in position to hit back five minutes later though and when Alun Wyn Jones was caught offside just inside the 22, it allowed Owen Farrell to kick his side level.
However, controversy reared its head in the 16th minute when Biggar was allowed to take a quick restart and kick to the corner for Adams to dot down out wide while England’s players were standing under the posts after Farrell had been told by referee Pascal Gauzere to speak to his players.
England were furious the score was allowed to stand – Farrell protesting that water carriers from both teams were on the field but French official Gauzere was unmoved and Biggar slotted the conversion as well for good measure.
Skipper Farrell pulled three more points back for the away side with a penalty immediately after the restart, but more controversy was to come on 29 minutes as full-back Williams took advantage of broken play to score another disputed try for Wales.
This time, the questions centred around whether Louis Rees-Zammit had knocked on in the build-up to the score as he tried to gather a kick in behind the defence prior to Williams scooping up the loose ball, but Mr Gauzere and television match official Alex Ruiz decided he had not.
The try stood and Biggar converted via the posts to put Wales 11 points clear, although England hauled themselves back into contention inside the final five minutes of the half.
Watson used his pace, power and vision to grab their first try of the match, taking a pass from Jamie George then cutting in off the right wing to finish and while Farrell could not add the extras, the inside centre reduced Wales’ lead to 17-14 at the break with a third penalty.
The Saracens man was unable to draw the visitors level five minutes after the restart when he pulled a penalty from 45 metres wide though, and three minutes later Wales surged further ahead thanks to quick-thinking from Hardy.
The scrum-half seized the opportunity to take a quick tap after Jonny Hill had infringed at a ruck and darted away from around 20 metres out, leaving tacklers grasping at thin air as he grabbed the hosts’ third converted try of the game.
It was Hardy’s opposite number Youngs who, following a penalty from Farrell, helped England get back on level terms as he picked up from a ruck and scampered over for a converted try following a break into the 22 by May.
Ill-discipline was to prove costly for them though and Sheedy – brought on at half-time in place of Biggar – punished infractions in kickable range to put Wales nine point clear as the match headed into the final 10 minutes.
And the bonus-point was wrapped up as replacement Hill powered over under the posts, putting the seal on the win and clinching the Triple Crown following wins over Ireland and Scotland – something they last did in their Grand Slam year of 2019.
More to follow…
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