Late heartbreak for England at Twickenham as Davies wins it for Wales
A late Scott Davies try gave Wales a 19-12 win at Twickenham on Saturday, to secure the Triple Crown and keep alive their Gland Slam chances.
Despite Welsh fly half Rhys Priestland serving 10 minutes in the sin bin, the visitors kept their nerve and managed to snatch the winning try with just five minutes to go.
This is the first time Wales have secured the Triple Crown at Twickenham, whilst they hadn’t won a competitive match in England’s home ground since 2008.The early exchanges proved to be cagey, with both sides failing to convert chances after finding themselves in good line-out positions inside their opponents’ 22.
Wales almost opened the scoring early on for Warren Gatland’s team. A well worked line-out move saw George North break the England line with the try line in sight. However, a crucial tap-tackle by winger David Strettle prevented the Llanelli Scarlets winger from scoring under the posts.
Nerves got the better of Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenney just before the 20 minute mark, when he spurned the game’s opening kicking chance with a penalty just wide of the posts. Opposing kicker Owen Farrell made no mistake with his first attempt, however, giving the hosts a three-point lead after 25 minutes.
In no time at all Wales had levelled, Halfpenney making no mistake with his second shot, but England’s three-point lead was restored when Farrell converted a penalty, largely thanks to North’s poor decision-making at the restart.
Big hits were apparent all over the field, with Wales captain Sam Warburton putting his body on the line on several occasions, whilst the work ethic of England centre Brad Barritt was also noticeable.
Starting his first game of the Six Nations, Manu Tuilagi was proving to be a key player for the English as he broke the line several times. Opposing centre Jamie Roberts proved to be a useful outlet for the Welsh.
The first-half ended with a further exchange of penalties, and England went into the interval 9-6 up.
After the restart, much like their previous two Six Nations fixtures, Stuart Lancaster’s men managed to find a score with another charge-down.
Priestland’s kick was anticipated by lock Mouritz Botha, and the stand-off then deliberately held up play in an offside position which in turn led to his yellow card and Farrell adding another three points. However, the men in red did extremely well to retain the ball for the spell they suffered with 14 players, and kept returning the ball to their side in slow, productive phases.
This proved to be crucial, as the only other points scored whilst Priestland was on the sidelines was a Wales penalty, kicked again by Halfpenney. England were on top in the second-half, despite Priestland returning to the fray, and had another chance to exten their lead; however, the almost-faultless Farrell missed the opportunity for a lengthy three-pointer.
Both teams rang the changes, and the over-exuberance of replacement prop Matt Stevens led to Wales levelling the score with just nine minutes to play.Then, just four minutes later, Wales came up with the winning score, when substitute Courtney Lawes lost the ball in contact with Wales reserve Scott Williams.
The Scarlets centre kicked into an open space, and with the bounce of the ball favouring him rather than the unlucky Tom Croft, Williams scored the crucial five points. The try proved heartbreaking for the home fans, as it seemed all the hard efforts put in by their side would come to nothing, particularly when Halfpenney added the extra two points and looked to have sealed the triumph.
However, there was still time for drama. As England chased a try of their own, winning several penalties deep inside the Wales 22, Strettle appeared to have gone over in the corner with time up.
After several replays from numerous angles, the video referee said the touch down was inconclusive and that no try should be awarded. With time up the full time whistle was blown, and Wales celebrated a memorable victory in a memorable game.