Rugby Union: End of England's dream

Wales 32 England 31 Tries: Howarth, Gibbs Tries: Luger, Hanley, Hill Conversions: Jenkins 2 Conversions: Wilkinson 2 Penalties: Jenkins 6 Penalties Wilkinson 4 Half-time: 18-25 Attendance: 75,000

THE WELSH have been enjoying the green, green grass of someone else's home for two long years now and yesterday afternoon, their English landlords marched into Wembley to reclaim the title deeds. They left empty- handed.

Scott Gibbs, the sort of squatter no police force would even contemplate trying to shift without three different court orders and a riot squad in support, broke the red rose defence - and its heart - clean asunder in the first minute of injury time to deny the overwhelming favourites a fourth Grand Slam in nine years and a first under the joint stewardship of Clive Woodward and Lawrence Dallaglio.

As a finale, it was no more than a classic Anglo-Welsh contest deserved. Gibbs' try was a mind-boggling combination of the rapier and the broadsword as he busted and sidestepped English tacklers by the half-dozen, starting with Tim Rodber and ending with the debutant, Steve Hanley.

Wales were a point adrift even then, but there was not the remotest possibility of Neil Jenkins missing a do-or-die conversion from 20-odd metres. Old Jug-Ears would have slotted it home had it been from his own 22, let alone England's.

Dallaglio, certainly England's stand-out performer and quite probably the man of this nerve-shredding occasion, was left to contemplate the Celtic double whammy to end them all: defeat by Wales and Scotland in the same afternoon. The triumph of Red Dragonhood presented the Five Nations' Championship to Scotland, whose equally vibrant victory in Paris on Saturday left them comfortably in the box seat in terms of points difference. It was certainly not a day for the smoked salmon set who had so blithely swapped Twickenham's West car park for the wilds of North West London.

Perversely, Wales will never again play in the shadow of the twin towers: their own Millennium Stadium, reaching ever upwards on the Cardiff skyline, will soon be ready to receive them. Still, they will be tempted to rip up the Wembley greensward by its roots and cart it down the M4. Having been left for dead by a confident England during the first 40 minutes, they drew so much physical and spiritual sustenance from the half-time break that they proceeded to cover the finest playing surface in world rugby like a red shroud.

In their funereal mood, England will remember Andre Watson, the South African referee, as their hanging judge and undertaker. They can have few complaints about the torrent of penalty awards that helped the relentless Jenkins keep his countrymen at the races during a first half entirely dominated by England: some of the offences, like Neil Back's bone-headed refusal to give up the ball after the whistle, deserved whatever punishment the Pontypridd stand-off felt equipped to dish out. But was Tim Rodber's thunderous assault on Colin Charvis in injury time a fair hit or a calculated misdemeanour? That one will rage for ever and a day.

Charvis, running the ball out of the Welsh 22 in a desperate attempt to spark something that might wipe out his side's six-point deficit, came up against Rodber in his "this far and no further" guise. It looked a reasonable tackle, even though the Swansea flanker was left on the floor in a dozen pieces, but Watson saw it differently, yellow-carding the Englishman for a shoulder charge. And to think JPR Williams once won a Grand Slam for Wales with what has always been described in the valleys as "the shoulder charge from heaven".

Jenkins, swinging the priceless tool of his trade like Tiger Woods in a smooth groove, banged his penalty punt from one 22 to the other, and when Chris Wyatt, magnificent in the Welsh second-row, won the line-out with an arching stretch of the back, Gibbs was duly released on his glory run into history. England, a point adrift and horribly aware that they had only 60 short seconds to conjure a reply, quickly worked Mike Catt into drop-goal range, but Catt is no Jenkins. He sliced his opportunity and knew instantly that he would not be granted a second chance.

The comforting events of the first half, which included a slashing try for Dan Luger on two minutes and an imperious first-cap gallop to the line for Hanley at the end of the opening quarter, now seemed light years away to English minds. Dallaglio, aided and abetted by the faithful Richard Hill and some productive ploughing from the tractors in the front five, denied the Welsh meaningful possession for minutes on end: indeed, the "home" side, so to speak, had to wait until injury time to put together anything resembling a sustained attacking move. And no, it did not result in a try. Just another Jenkins penalty, his sixth.

Indeed, when Gareth Thomas and Shane Howarth made the mother of all nonsenses of a straightforward Dawson punt two minutes before the break - the unflagging Hill was there to hoover up the spilled ball and crash over in Mark Taylor's tackle - the whole affair looked done and dusted. No such English luck. Back's uncharacteristic fumble in the opening minute of the second half gave the Welsh the platform to manufacture a clever right-flag try for Howarth and from that point, it was an afternoon for neurotics. Most of them, if not all, turned out to be wearing white shirts rather than red.

"I thought it was close to the posts but really I felt comfortable all day," Jenkins said. "I'm so chuffed for the boys, the management and all the fans. It's been brilliant."

Howarth said he owed his thanks for his effort to a pin-point ball from Jenkins.

"Thanks Jenks," he said on television after the game.

Asked if he had known anything like it as an All Black, the full-back said: "I've never experienced anything like this. It's great to repay the fans like that. We didn't repay them in the first half but we repaid them with a bit of magic from the two old fellas in the midfield."

WALES: S Howarth (Sale); G Thomas (Cardiff), M Taylor (Swansea), S Gibbs (Swansea), D James (Pontypridd); N Jenkins (Pontypridd), R Howley (Cardiff, capt); P Rogers (London Irish), G Jenkins (Swansea), B Evans (Swansea), C Quinnell (Richmond), C Wyatt (Llanelli), C Charvis (Swansea), S Quinnell (Llanelli), B Sinkinson (Neath). Replacements: N Walne (Richmond) for Thomas, 63; A Lewis (Cardiff) for Rogers, 68; D Young (Cardiff) for Evans, 68.

ENGLAND: M Perry (Bath); D Luger (Harlequins), B-J Mather (Sale), J Wilkinson (Newcastle), S Hanley (Sale); M Catt (Bath), M Dawson (Northampton); J Leonard (Harlequins), R Cockerill (Leicester), D Garforth (Leicester), M Johnson (Leicester), T Rodber (Northampton), R Hill (Saracens), L Dallaglio (Wasps, capt), N Back (Leicester).

Referee: A Watson (South Africa).

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

Design Technology Teacher

£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

Foundation Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

English Teacher- Manchester

£19200 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Are you a ...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes