England dominated Wales in a 29-18 win to set up an thrilling climax to the Six Nations next weekend.
In a scrappy match, England scored two tries and could have had more, while Wales had to rely solely on the boot of Leigh Halfpenny, whose unerring accuracy punished England's indiscipline in their own half – mostly by the mongrel tactics of hooker Dylan Hartley – often well over 50m on the angle.
It gave England's young and emerging team their first Triple Crown since 2003, while Wales, packed with British & Irish Lions, will be wondering where to go next, so effectively were they shut down that they never had a realistic chance of crossing the line. Their scrum was never in control, and paid the price when Gethin Jenkins was sent to the sin bin by Romain Poite for his ineptitude.
Wales were rocked back in the first four minutes when a powerful run by prop David Wilson ended near the Wales line, and from the ensuing penalty, Danny Care took advantage of slack Welsh defending to dart in under the posts. Thirty minutes later Wales overthrew at a lineout and a brilliant grubber by centre Billy Twelvetrees put his partner Luther Burrell in at the corner. Burrell could have had another in the closing stages after an exciting free-flowing run by England's backs, but was tackled into touch by Halfpenny.
Ireland, still top of the log on points difference, travel to France nest Saturday, while England take on a battered, winless, Italy team. All are on six points, and it may come down to a count-back for the prestigious title.
England – Tries: Danny Care, Luther Burrell. Conversions: Owen Farrell (2). Penalties: Farrell (5).
Wales – Penalties: Leigh Halfpenny (6).
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 David Attwood, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Ford, 23 Alex Goode.
Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Jake Ball, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams.
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images