Wales claim Triple Crown in controversial win against England
By Sam Broad
Wales remained on track for a Six Nations Grand Slam, after getting the better of an ill-disciplined England team. In the end, Wales comfortably won the dramatic matchup 40-24, although England will be disappointed with how easily the game drifted away from them.
Where did the game go wrong for England?
England’s sluggish start allowed a proactive Wales team to seize control of the game. When referee, Pascal Gauzere told Owen Farrell to remind his team to be disciplined. Dan Biggar used his initiative to take a cross field penalty when the water carriers were still on the pitch. The kick found Josh Adams on the wing, who scored while England were still in the huddle. Farrell’s complaints were heard by Gauzere but quickly dismissed.
Wales second try caused further debate when Louis Rees-Zammit dropped a pass. Liam Williams picked up the loose ball and went on to score. After consulting the television match official, Gauzere awarded the try, deciding that Rees-Zammit had not knocked the ball on. With Biggar’s conversion going in off the post, Wales made the most of their first half fortune.
England closed the gap before half time, with Anthony Watson scoring England’s first real attacking move of the match. Farrell missed the conversion, but later scored a penalty, meaning Wales narrowly led 17-14 at half time.
Once again, Wales started the half stronger. A mistake from Johnny Hill, allowed Kieran Hardy to take a quick tap and go penalty. The Welsh scrum half caught the English lines by surprise, bursting through to score a try. After Biggar went off injured, Callum Sheedy stepped up to convert the kick for Wales.
Ben Youngs individual brilliance clawed England back within touching distance. With Farrell’s conversion levelling the scores at 24-24.
However, similarly to the matches against Ireland and Scotland, Wales finished the stronger of the two teams.
Maro Itoje was lucky to escape a yellow card after conceding numerous penalties. Although Sheedy punished England’s ill-discipline, scoring three consecutive penalties.
Wales put the game out of England’s reach with Cory Hill’s try. The final score was 40-24, meaning Wales remain outright favourites for the Six Nations.
While England can doubt the referee’s first half decision making, England’s lack of discipline caused their downfall late into the second half. Manager Eddie Jones needs to rethink the team’s tactical setup, if England are to ever reach the level of their performances seen at the 2019 World Cup.