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


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."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam