Wales conquers the Triple Crown and goes for the Grand Slam


Wales beat the new England 19-12 at Twickenham after a balanced, intense, physical and exciting till the last second battle. Only after the ultimate whistle by the referee was the result certain. After several phases of attacking play and with the Welsh line well stretched, the English set the play towards Strettle to attack the try line. Halfpenny and J. Davies used their bodies and hands to avoid it. Kiwi Steve Walsh's was forced to ask the TMO. Four minutes of deliberation were necessary for him to judge that the play was inconclusive and thus the game came to its end. This try would have given Flood the option of a difficult conversion to even the score.

The first half started with an overwhelming superiority by the Dragons. In the first twenty minutes the game took place almost entirely on the English half. Phases and phases of Welsh attacks collided against a fierce English defence. However, they were not able to make that possession count on the scoreboard. North had an exceptional opportunity when he broke the line after a lineout. A tap-tackle by Strettle made the trick for England. Priestland then chipped into the corner to Cuthbert, but the wing was unable to collect the ball to ground it. Minutes later the Welsh scrum ran over the English five meters from the goal line. The easy penalty kick was sent wide by Halfpenny and it seemed as if this error changed the momentum of the game.

Until then the hosts had only been on the defensive mode, led by an immense Geoff Parling, converted in a tackling machine in this stretch. Then, it all shifted. England could keep more possession of the oval and gained more and more territory. A penalty for offside was successfully kicked by Farrell. England were then penalized at the breakdown and Halfpenny tied with his kick, but after the subsequent restart, North was brought into touch on his own 22. In the ensuing play, a spectacular Warburton’s tackle prevented a sure try by Tuilagi. Yet, an easy penalty for another offside put England ahead for the first time in the match. Moments later Farrell, in a superb solo run, almost scored under the posts. Two more penalties, one for each contender, left the score 9-6 at the break.

The beginning of the second part was also favourable for the English. Priestland was fairly sin-binned after a tackle without the ball on Corbisiero a couple of meters from the try line. This was all motivated by a successful charge by Botha on the young Welsh fly-half clearance kick. England reached then the maximum lead of the game: 12-6. However, the hosts could not take advantage of their numerical superiority, and closed these ten minutes with the partial score tied at three. Gradually the visitors started to seize control of the game. The first warning came when Welsh centre Scott Williams committed a serious mistake, after being unable to off-load the ball in a clear three on one close to the left corner. Then English prop Matt Stevens conceded a penalty after using his hands on the ruck and Halfpenny pinned it. Five minutes from time Williams was able to make up for his previous error. He did so in a great way. First, he stole the ball from Lawes, one of the most physical players in Europe. Then, in a wonderful solo run, he kicked the oval forward, picked it up after the bounce, broke a tackle and scored under the sticks. Priestland converted the try to put Wales ahead by seven points. The last attempt by Strettle on the final play of the game was not enough for the English to tie the scoreboard.

With this victory, Wales won the Triple Crown. And for the first time in history they did so in the temple of English rugby, which makes the victory even sweeter if possible. The Welsh have to play two more games in Cardiff: Italy and France. They seem to be poised to face the French the last day with the Grand Slam on the line.

England can draw several positives from the game. First they proved they are a team that has regained its pride with Lancaster after the catastrophic role in the World Cup. And despite the inexperience at Test level, many of the youngsters playing for the first time at Twickenham for the national team stood up to the challenge: Farrell proved he has the attributes to be the perfect fly half for the future; Tuilagi was a constant threat to the Welsh line; and Parling was a colossus in defence as well as calling the line-outs. The result indicates that Britain is on an upward curve, however there is still room for improvement. Two serious mistakes from Lawes and Stevens gave Wales the opportunity to come back. And the biggest concern must be the scarcity of tries: two in three games is not an achievement to feel especially proud.

In the other two matches of the weekend Ireland beat Italy 42 to 10 in Dublin and a brave Scotland was defeated by France in Edinburgh 17 to 23. Thus there are only two unbeaten teams remaining in the tournament: France and Wales.

Chito Muñiz
BBA Universidad de Cantabria
Carleton University Business Program
Colaborador MotivaGoal

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