Six Nations: Welsh dragons fired up for England decider

Victory over Scots gives Wales chance to win Six Nations in Cardiff and deny Lancaster's men a Grand Slam

edinburgh

Rob Howley urged his players to produce one of the greatest games of their lives in next weekend's Six Nations decider against England in Cardiff.

If Stuart Lancaster's unbeaten side beat Italy at Twickenham today they will be seeking their first Grand Slam since 2003, but Wales can also retain their title next Saturday if they secure a large-enough victory. "It's one of the biggest games our players and probably our coaches will be involved in," proclaimed Rob Howley, Wales's interim head coach.

"If England do what we expect them to do tomorrow, they'll be coming to our stadium, our supporters, trying to win the Slam. We're just looking forward to preparing this week for a mammoth game."

The Welsh dragon was not exactly breathing fire in Edinburgh yesterday but a Richard Hibbard try and 23 points from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny added up to more than enough to see off Scotland by a margin of 28-18 for their third win of the tournament.

The Scottish pack were continually penalised at scrum-engagement time by the South African referee, Craig Joubert, and the destiny of the title could come down to points difference. As the table stands, England are top by virtue of their advantage in that department: plus 36 to plus 29. That gives them a seven-point edge going into today's Test at Twickenham.

"Look, everyone's presuming England are going to beat Italy," said Scott Johnson, the former Wales coach now in temporary charge of the Scots. "They can't get ahead of themselves but they're not silly. They'll realise they have to do the hard yards first against Italy.

"I'll be interested to see how England go and what the points difference is afterwards . If it comes down to the wire a little bit this Welsh side could cause them trouble at home. I like this Welsh side. There's a toughness and a resilience about them.

"They've got a nice balance. They can grind out a game. I'm not sure they can catch England if they have to chase a lot of points. I'm not sure there's enough there to do that. But if it goes down to the wire and it's close I think with home advantage Wales will be hard to beat.

"It's a good finale to the tournament. I just wish we were part of it. It'll be a quality game. It'll go a long way to determining a lot of positions on the Lions team. There will be a lot at stake." There will that. And for Wales, it will be back to the green, green grass of home after completing a run of five wins on the road in the championship for the first time in their history.

Just who will lead them out remains to be seen. Ryan Jones suffered a damaged shoulder yesterday. "We're going to medically assess him over the next 24 hours and we'll make a judgement from there," Howley said.

His judgement in restoring the former captain Sam Warburton to the starting line-up yesterday proved spot on, with Wales's Grand Slam skipper of 12 months ago producing a magnificent seven of a performance at openside flanker. "I thought Sam was world class," Howley said. "In our eyes he's always been outstanding. I'm just delighted for him that he's gone out and answered the people who were questioning him.

"In attack and defence he was outstanding. He showed world-class qualities, pressure on the ball and vital turnovers.

"He's had a tough time the last five or six weeks. So it's good to see him enjoying his rugby. I thought our pack was outstanding. In terms of their ball-carrying and defensive qualities we looked fairly strong. That gave us the platform."

There was just a call from Howley to improve focus. "We lacked discipline at time. We need to take that on board because England next week is a pretty important game."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable