Callum Sheedy slotted three second-half penalties to help Wales claim a 40-24 victory over England and stay unbeaten in the Six Nations. DYLAN JACK reports.
With the win, Wales claimed the coveted Six Nations ‘triple crown’ after their opening victories over both Scotland and Ireland. Wayne Pivac’s men are now top of the table after coming away with all five points and will stay there this weekend after France’s game against Scotland was postponed.
While the refereeing can leave England feel hard done by, especially since Wales were awarded two controversial tries in the first half, they can have no complaints about the result. Wales were simply the better side and controlled the game in the second half and scrambled very well, even when England threatened to score.
England’s poor disciplinary record came back to hurt them as they conceded a whopping 14 penalties, six of those at the breakdown.
To Wales’ credit, they made the most of it, especially considering they scored two tries from quick-tap penalties. The first of those came in controversial fashion as England captain Owen Farrell was given a team warning and instructed to talk to his team. In shades of the 2004 match between South Africa and Ireland, Wales took a quick-tap penalty and shifted the ball to Josh Adams to score the opening try.
Referee Pascal Gauzere insisted that he had called time on, despite Owen Farrell’s furious argument to the contrary.
The second of those tries came in the second half as scrumhalf Kieran Hardy caught England napping, taking a quick-tap penalty inside their 22 and sprinting through untouched to score.
To add to the controversy of the match, Wales scored a debatable second try when it appeared that Louis Rees-Zammit had lost the ball while trying to regather before Liam Williams dove on the loose ball to score. However, the TMO adjudged that the ball had come off Rees-Zammit’s leg and the try was allowed to stand.
England managed to stay in the contest as they produced an effective attacking display, scoring tries through Anthony Watson and Ben Youngs, while Farrell slotted four penalties to keep the pressure on Wales.
However, Wales brought on Sheedy in the second half to replace Dan Biggar. The 25-year-old flyhalf was making just his seventh Test appearance but was in no way cowed by the occasion, holding his nerve to slot three successive penalties and put Wales in a commanding position with 10 minutes to go.
Replacement lock Cory Hill then burst over the tryline to seal the match for Wales and the bonus point.
Wales – Tries: Josh Adams, Liam Williams, Kieran Hardy, Cory Hill. Conversions: Dan Biggar (2), Callum Sheedy (2). Penalties: Biggar, Sheedy (3).
England – Tries: Anthony Watson, Ben Youngs. Penalties: Owen Farrell (4).
Wales – 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Subs: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Botham, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Uilisi Halaholo.
England – 15 Elliot Daly, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinkler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola.
Subs: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 George Martin, 21 Ben Earl, 22 Dan Robson, 23 Max Malins.
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