England hold on to beat Wales

Owen Farrell kicks a penalty for England

England took a massive step towards winning the Six Nations Championship by holding on to beat Wales 25-21 at Twickenham.

England lost Dan Coles to the sin bin five minutes from time and with an extra man on the field Wales scored two quick tries to put England under real pressure at the death.

The result means that England have won the triple crown and are the only remaining team in the Six Nations who are unbeaten and remain on track for the title and a possible Grand Slam.

England have one match remaining and next week they play France in Paris.

Man of the match and Saracens lock Maro Itoje, given his Test debut this season by new England coach Eddie Jones, had a superb all-round match as the home side gained a measure of revenge for their World Cup defeat by Wales.

England had a commanding half-time lead thanks to Anthony Watson’s converted try, from a move Itoje initiated, and three Owen Farrell penalties.

Fly-half Dan Biggar eventually got Wales on the scoreboard with a converted try from a charge down.

But, with Farrell adding three more penalties, North and Faletau’s scores after England prop Dan Cole was yellow-carded came too late to deny England a win that was effectively sealed when the returning Manu Tuilagu forced North into touch in the dying seconds.

Wales outscored England three tries to one but England’s victory made it four wins out of four under Australian boss Jones and ended Wales’ title hopes.

If Scotland beat France on Sunday at Murrayfield England will have won the Six Nations with a match to spare.

Even if that result goes against them, England can still win the Championship and claim a first Grand Slam since their World Cup-winning year of 2003 if they beat France in Paris next Saturday.

When England and Wales last met, the Welsh had come back from a 10-point deficit to win 28-25 in a World Cup pool match at Twickenham in September — a result that played a major part in hosts England’s first-round exit.

England’s matchday 23 contained 13 survivors from that loss and one of them, Mike Brown, almost scored an early try.

However, the full-back cut inside when he might have gone for the corner and was tackled short of the try-line by Wales fly-half Dan Biggar.

At that stage England No.8 Billy Vunipola was outplaying childhood friend and Wales counterpart Faletau.

England soon attacked again and won a penalty that Farrell kicked for a 3-0 lead.

They then laid siege to the Welsh line.

Prop Dan Cole crossed but, with the grounding deemed inconclusive on replay, no try was awarded.

Jones had accused Wales of “illegal” scrummaging in the build-up, and from the ensuing five-metre home set-piece, South African referee Craig Joubert ruled Wales had infringed.

Farrell kicked a simple penalty and then landed a longer-range effort in the 20th minute to make it 9-0.

Wales kicked a penalty for an attacking line-out but Itoje, winning just his third cap, stole the ball off their throw.

The try England had threatened came in the 31st minute after Itoje burst through a couple of tackles off a ruck and fed Brown, who had Watson on his shoulder and a well-timed pass sent the wing in at the left corner.

Wales needed a score but great ruck defence, with Itoje again prominent, saw England win a relieving penalty near their own line.

Farrell’s early second-half penalty extended England’s advantage to 19-0.

By contrast, penalties were no longer an option for Wales.

They pressed hard for a try off a couple of close-range scrums but England’s defence held firm only for Biggar to charge down opposing fly-half George Ford’s kick and run in under the posts for a try he duly converted.

But Wales then saw captain Sam Warburton carried off after a clash with England flanker James Haskell.

England ended Tuilagi’s 21-month, largely injury-induced, Test exile by bringing the centre off the bench and Farrell kicked two more penalties.

Cole was sin-binned inside the final 10 minutes, leading to a Welsh onslaught.

Giant wing North burst clear down the left in the 74th minute and set up Faletau’s try three minutes later but England held out.

Wales’ Tomas Francis faces a nervous weekend after video evidence was shown in the match of a possible eye gouge on Dan Cole and he could be cited.

Final Score England 25 (16) Wales 21 (0)


Tries – Watson
Pen – Farrell (6)
Con – Farrell
Drop –

Tries – Biggar, North, Faletau
Pen –
Con – Biggar
Drop –

Match Official
Referee: Craig Joubert (RSA)



Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Jack Nowell; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw; George Kruis, Maro Itoje; Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley (capt), Joe Marler

Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Mako Vunipola, Kieran Brookes, Joe Launchbury, Jack Clifford, Danny Care, Manu Tuilagi, Elliot Daly


Liam Williams; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (capt), Dan Lydiate; Alun Wyn Jones, Bradley Davies; Samson Lee, Scott Baldwin, Rob Evans

Replacements: Ken Owens, Paul James, Tomas Francis, Luke Charteris, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb, Rhys Priestland, Gareth Anscombe

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