Jonny May scored twice in the first 20 minutes at Twickenham but it needed the most desperate of defensive efforts in the last hour for England to ultimately beat Wales 12-6. Ireland thumped Italy in the weekend’s early game and Scotland came from behind to beat France 32-26 at Murrayfield.
England’s George Ford and Owen Farrell 10/12 axis was effective on attack in the first quarter and their clever kicking game, aligned to May’s pace, hurt the visitors.
England’s early dominance could only yield the two May tries and as the match progressed Wales got stronger and more dominant in possession. They also looked more dangerous when New Zealand-born fullback Gareth Anscombe moved to flyhalf in the second half.
Anscombe troubled the English defence but Wales just couldn’t turn the half breaks into five pointers and all they had to show for their attacking intent was two penalties.
England deserve plaudits for actually winning the game and scoring their second successive Six Nations tournament victory but they were made to look vulnerable in the last quarter against a very well conditioned Welsh outfit.
Wales, for all their passion, don’t have All Blacks-type game breakers and England’s defensive resolve proved stronger than the collective attack of Wales.
South Africa’s National Director of Rugby and the man who will lead the Springboks through to the 2019 World Cup Rassie Erasmus was at Twickeham and he would have taken comfort from just how much Wales managed to trouble England.
The Springboks play Wales in Washington DC in June a week before starting a three-Test series against Eddie Jones’s England.
Ireland predictably clubbed Italy in Dublin.
The Irish scored eight tries to three in winning 56-19.
Robbie Henshaw and Jacob Stockdale each scored two tries but Henshaw also left the field with an injury.
The win was Ireland’s ninth in succession, while Italy lost for the 14th successive time in the Six Nations.
Scotland captain Greg Laidlaw kicked eight from eight, including three penalties in the last 10 minutes as France’s ill-discipline again proved their undoing.
France led 26-23 going into the final 10 minutes but once Laidlaw made it 26-all it was all Scotland after that. Two more Laidlaw penalties and good composure from Scotland made for a deserving victory.