Six Nations: Wales slam door on English grand design

Wales 30 England 3: Dragon power clinches Six Nations title for second year running as Lancaster's much-lauded youngsters are given a reality check

Cardiff

There were chants of "easy, easy" long before the end, but this win, and Wales's retention of the Six Nations Championship was about so much more than schadenfreude at a horribly outclassed England's failure to capture the Grand Slam. Had it not been for a shambolic first half here against Ireland on the opening weekend of this Championship, Wales might have been celebrating a fourth Grand Slam in nine years, beyond anything achieved by the great teams of the 1970s.

By comfortably outstripping England on points difference as the teams finished four wins each, the title was deservedly theirs and the manner of its delivery against the old enemy may have made it just as sweet as the Slams of 2005, 2008 and 2012, all completed amid similar scenes of tumult at this spectacular stadium.

Wales's punishing defence conceded no tries for the fourth match running – the previous three were wins away to France, Italy and Scotland – but here they added two scintillating second-half tries by the Cardiff wing Alex Cuthbert and buried England, who had only brief flashes of changing the course of one of the most one-sided title deciders you are likely to see.

Wales were winning the battle for millimetres in the early stages, building an early penalty count of four to nil against England and forcing their opponents into clumsy passes that went to ground. The upshot was a 6-0 lead from two penalties by Leigh Halfpenny (right). Owen Farrell, playing his first match in three weeks after a quad-muscle injury, replied from 40 metres in off a post on 20 minutes, but with England's scrum creaking and Tom Youngs popping up, Halfpenny's third kick sailed over from 40 metres for 9-3.

The rest of the half was exciting but also undeniably desperate as long passages of play swept back and forth: when England had a couple of half-breaks by Mike Brown on the left wing they went unfinished. A Welsh scrum-collapse allowed Farrell to kick to touch on the home 22-metre line; Tom Youngs overthrew, but Jamie Roberts for Wales kicked out on the full, giving England another go on the opposite wing. This time their attack died when Ben Youngs – whose fallible service gave no great indication that he was any more comfortable as one of only five England players in the starting XV to have played here before than those who had not – chucked a pass straight to Dan Biggar for a counter that, via Roberts, had George North stretching his legs only for Brown's tap tackle to chop the wing down just inside the England half.

Another run by North also generated crowd shrieks of anticipation but Farrell did well to chase him down. In the midst of it all, a Farrell penalty in the 27th minute drifted wide to the left and, as the last act of the first half, a nicely struck drop at goal by Biggar met the same fate.

When England hit their line-out target it was usually Tom Croft, but you wondered how much oomph the Leicester flanker had on his first Test start for a year – oomph in this kind of match meaning an incessant need for weapons-grade piledriving. Mako Vunipola came on at loosehead for England and adopted a scrummaging position so low to the ground that Adam Jones, that wily, fantastic veteran of three Welsh Grand Slams just looked at him, laughed and refused to engage. Cue the inevitable Wales penalty and more pressure on England. A kick out on the full by Alex Goode brought Roberts crashing past Chris Robshaw's tackle in midfield and ruck after ruck in the red-zone. Here the callow Englishmen of their post-2011 World Cup revamp under Stuart Lancaster battered in with finger-in-the-dyke tackles, but eventually a penalty by Halfpenny gave Wales their nine-point lead with 51 minutes gone.

And then came the moment that condemned the red rose, as much changed in personnel from two years ago as it was, to the same disembowelling feeling, as their last stab at a Slam in Dublin in 2011 when they were well beaten by Ireland. The replacement Wales hooker Ken Owens squeezed a turnover out of Geoff Parling, Justin Tipuric, Mike Phillips and Jonathan Davies whipped the ball to the right and Cuthbert thundered 30 metres for the try.

 



Farrell missed a penalty, Biggar dropped a goal from 25 metres after 64 minutes and it was 20-3, rendering the mental arithmetic all but academic (it would be Wales on plus-56 to England's plus-16 by the end). England shifted Manu Tuilagi to the wing and Brown to full-back, but Brown's next act was to be the sad stooge in Wales's and Cuthbert's second try. The Welsh ploy of pairing Sam Warburton and Tipuric as flankers had joyous results as the former burst up the middle and his openside mate got free on the right, first using Cuthbert as the decoy to draw Brown in, then giving the short scoring pass for the giant wing to celebrate his ninth try in 18 Tests. Biggar swept over the conversion and a penalty. Anyone thinking of the summer's Lions tour was envisaging many more red jerseys than white.

Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn