Best of the Weekend: Classic at Twickenham see Wales win Triple Crown

Brutal encounter at Twickenham sees Wales end on top

All those who say England were robbed can stop reading now. The same goes for all those who say Wales smashed the hosts. This was a remarkable test match, with two sides going toe-to-toe physically and on the scoreboard before it was settled by a moment of brilliance from Scott Williams. On that, there can surely be no argument.

For Wales to win despite producing their worst performance so far in this year’s championship, with Rhys Priestland enduring a horrendous afternoon with the boot, says it all about them as a side. The adage that good sides even win when they perform terribly exists for a reason. Wales were matched physically, taking as many huge hits as they dished out, yet still came out on top. In Sam Warburton they have the world’s form openside flanker. The work he did at the breakdown, along with his try-saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi, transformed the game.

As for England, oddly there will be more satisfaction in defeat than there was after victories in the first two rounds. The England team on Saturday had the balance that has been missing, not just in midfield but also in the back row. Given the number of youngster involved, they should follow Wales’ lead from their World Cup heartache and use this defeat for the greater good. Their defence was very good if not excellent. Owen Farrell’s first start at fly-half was encouraging and composed. Geoff Parling made the decision to drop Tom Palmer seem academic. To come so close to a draw at the death through Strettle’s effort, whilst painful for the moment, in the long run will stand England in good stead.

Scotland shine and frustrate in equal measure against France

The rot goes on. Scotland are now on a run of five losses, but this was their best performance for a long time against the Rugby World Cup finalists. But, they are their own worst enemy. For every inspired piece of play at the breakdown from Ross Rennie or cutting break from Stuart Hogg, there was a knock-on, or a penalty conceded at the scrum. No wonder Andy Robinson is the subject of entertaining yet painful video montages.

In fact, Scotland’s two tries for Hogg and Lee Jones were excellent, both grabbing their first scores for their country. Yet Scotland were so eager to attack France on the gain line with their supposed fast game plan that they committed the same errors over and over, forcing passes that weren’t on. Their failure to cope with Jean-Baptiste Poux and Nicolas Mas was purely down to a lack of ability. Euan Murray might not have made much of a difference.

As for France, they notched up another victory without really hitting top gear against Scotland, relying on two moments of brilliance from Wesley Fofana and Julian Malzieu for them to score the tries they needed. Their lineout has been better, but their scrum dominated all afternoon, to the point where Jonathan Davies was bemoaning its effectiveness. Ireland should be wary of it all clicking into place next week.

Irish confidence restored as Italy stutter

Regardless of the opposition, a 30 point win in the Six Nations can only do your side the world of good. Five tries and 7/8 successful kicks from the boot of Johnny Sexton saw Ireland eventually stretch away from Italy, scoring 25 unanswered points in the second half. A resounding win in the end for Ireland after their three week break will boost their confidence before heading to Paris, again, next weekend.

Try of the Weekend goes to Scott Williams. It left England, and yours truly, dumbstruck. The speed of ripping the ball from Courtney Lawes, which didn’t seem physically possible, before the excellent kick, bounce of the ball and dive over the line was truly outstanding. Unbelievable score.

Williams should probably have the Hero award as well, but we’ll give that to Stuart Hogg. The youngest try scorer in the competition since Neil Jenkins in 1991, Hogg is Scotland’s shining light in the backs and barring injury could play at full back for over a decade.

As for a Villain, Steve Walsh and Wayne Barnes both received plenty of wrath from fans over the weekend, so vote away below for the winner!

by Ben Coles

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8 comments on “Best of the Weekend: Classic at Twickenham see Wales win Triple Crown

  1. In my opinion villain should go to dickson and/or Phillips for their insistence on standing at the back of a ruck for ages doing bugger all. Just get on with it. Talk about killing an exciting pace in the game.

  2. Interestingly, the two most encouraging performances could have come from teams that lost. Not often that you can say that!

    Is it just me or does anyone else reckon that this six nations is the most competitive for a very long time (ever?). Scotland playing as well as we’ve seen them for a long time and still can’t buy a win. Poor old Italy – I reckon they’ve improved a fair bit but they just look out of it at the moment, as all of the other sides seem to have stepped up a gear. Any thoughts?

    • Agree completely. Makes a mockery of the traditional belief that the 6N post RWC is a bit of a wash out, with teams rebuilding. Only England are really doing so, and they have produced one of the best displays I’ve seen from an England side in a few years

    • Not much between all the sides really (Italy excepted away from home ) has made for some riveting games , I didn’t think my blood pressure could get any higher than at the end of the Ireland -Wales game but Saturday’s last 5 minutes proved me wrong .

      Perhaps there is a positive from the World Cup in that all the sides have something to prove , France thinking they should have won it ,Wales grieving over missing the final ,England seeking redemption both on and off the field etc etc

  3. Are we becoming blinkered – spluttering decent teams against poor but improving teams. Tight finishes to matches that shouldn’t have been tight made them seem exciting. Wales at the moment are getting ‘the rub of the green’ as Terry Griffiths would say. Don’t see it lasting – form (Luck) is temporary, class is permanent yada yada yada……………..

  4. My thoughts in more detail on my blog (click on my name). I found myself with 5 Irishmen, 4 Englishmen, 3 Welshmen and 3 Frenchmen in my Team of the Week.

    I tried to change the emphasis in terms of Welsh and English, but couldn’t (I have Cole, Botha, Farrell and Tuilagi in my TOTW for England and Warburton, Faletau and North for Wales)

    And if anyone says Jones over Cole… never! Jones can’t be picked till he learns how to bind properly!!

  5. I must admit, I enjoyed that England Wales game. But, I want to remind u that if that try was disallowed and it was due to allow a 20-19 home win instead of a pointless 19-19, then u might get a gist of how it was to be robbed by the free penalty Wales got against Ireland. Just sayin’ (I still haven’t fully cooled down from that)

  6. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation however I to find this topic to be actually something that I believe I might by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely wide for me. I am taking a look forward to your subsequent put up, I will try to get the hold of it!

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