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6 Nations

Wales v England: Player Ratings & Match Review

Wales go top of Six Nations table with record-breaking win over England

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Written by Olly Green
Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Wales ended England’s Grand Slam hopes with a record-breaking 12th consecutive test win.

Warren Gatland’s side produced a dogged second-half display to turn around a 10-3 deficit at the interval, and run out 21-13 winners.

Tom Curry’s first international try had given England the advantage at the break.

But despite spells of English pressure, Wales’ defence stood firm, and with 13 minutes they got their reward; second row Cory Hill powered his way over the line after strong work from the Welsh pack.

The Principality Stadium was then sent into pandemonium with just over two minutes left on the clock.

Replacement fly-half Dan Biggar kicked cross-field, and winger Josh Adams climbed above Elliot Daly to claim the ball and bundle over in the corner.

Wales are now in pole position to win the championship, and have the chance to secure their first Grand Slam since 2012.

How it happened

The game started in true ‘Wales vs England’ fashion – Kyle Sinckler’s thumping tackles to the soundtrack of 74,000 bellowing rugby fans typified the rivalry between these two international giants.

Both sides conceded penalties during a bruising first 20 minutes, with Gareth Anscombe and Owen Farrell slotting from the tee.

Neither team was able to gain the upper hand as the early stages were dominated by poor kicking and chasing.

But it was flanker Curry who eventually penetrated the stubborn Welsh defence. The Sale Shark’s man exploited a gap at the fringes of a ruck with a pick and go and touched down for the games first try.

Welsh fans will blame Justin Tipuric’s off-the-ball altercation with England scrum-half Ben Youngs for the gaping hole in their defence.

In fairness, it was an uncharacteristic lapse in an almost flawless defensive display from Wales.

There were few defining moments in the 13 minutes that followed. England were evidently growing in confidence, but came away with nothing to show for a strong finish to the half.

England didn’t begin the second half with the same swagger, and as a result the game continued to unfold in the same gritty style.

Head coach Eddie Jones was left frustrated as England conceded two penalties in 5 minutes, which were duly converted by Anscombe, reducing the deficit to one point.

The confidence then seemed to drain from England’s players, but Farrell extended their narrow lead yet again following a trademark carry from centre Manu Tuilagi.

It Wales though who were in the ascendancy. They were dominating possession, and Biggar was beginning to pull the strings from the number ten position following his introduction.

England were resilient though, and it took a colossal 34 phases for the Welsh to break that resilience. Hill eventually found a gap and crashed over the line to send the Welsh support into raptures.

Biggar’s conversion dissected the posts to leave the score 16-13 with just over 10 minutes to go.

There was little suggestion England would repeat the late heroics of their last visit to Wales, and their fate was all but sealed when Adams gathered Biggar’s kick to score in the corner with minutes to go.

Wales now have the opportunity to secure the championship and a first Grand Slam in seven years. Victory over Scotland at Murrayfield would offer Wales the chance to seal the Grand Slam in front of their own fans in three weeks’ time.

Meanwhile England host an Italy side who have been no walkover so far, followed by Scotland at Twickenham on the sixth and final matchday.

How they rated

Wales

Liam Williams (Full-back) – 9

A constant threat with his strong running, and was almost flawless under the high ball despite a first-half bombardment. Was reliable defensively too.

George North (Winger) – 7

To England’s credit he was kept relatively quiet, aside from the odd 10m burst that got the Welsh fans on their feet. Made no notable errors.

Jonathan Davies (Centre) – 7.5

Davies was as solid as ever in defence, and was a nuisance at the breakdown too. Showed his experience as Wales took control in a nervy second-half.

Hadleigh Parkes (Centre) – 8

Another robust Welsh centre who stepped up to the physical test of Manu Tuilagi. Made more metres than anyone else on the pitch (79).

Josh Adams (Winger) – 7.5

Struggled to get involved in a game that was dominated by the big men up front as his side kept things narrow. His leap above Daly was however a crowning moment on brilliant day for Welsh rugby, and he did well to finish it off.

Gareth Anscombe (Fly-half) – 6.5

Attempted a number of kicks in the first half that came to very little. Improved in the second half, but was withdrawn for Biggar after an hour who outshone him.

Gareth Davies (Scrum-half) – 7

Was surprisingly effective in defensive with his pressure on Farrell, but made a few errors with the ball in hand that have littered his appearances this championship.

Rob Evans (Prop) – 7.5

Hit double figures in terms of tackles (10) and was effective at the ruck. No surprise he was subbed after a lung-busting hour.

Ken Owens (Hooker) – 8

Another experienced Welsh player who stepped up to the occasion, tackling everything that moved. Was pretty secure with his lineout throws as well

Tomas Francis (Prop) – 7

Was effective in the scrums, particularly towards the end of the first half. Solid in defence.

Alun Wyn Jones (Second-row) – 9

Yet another majestic performance from the captain, lead his side into battle and was rampant throughout the 80 minutes.

Cory Hill (Second-row) – 8

Proved to be the key to unlocking England’s defence. Another industrious display.

Josh Navidi (Flanker) – 8

Will be frustrated by some of his handling errors but put his body on the line for his country countless times.

Justin Tipuric (Flanker) – 8

A nice attempt to perform one of the dark arts of back-rowing by holding Youngs on the ground, but was punished by opposite number Curry. Was dominant in the lineout, and was all action in open play.

Ross Moriarty (Number eight) – 8

Took on the imposing figure of Billy Vunipola and came out on top, which very few can say they have done. Made 35m from his home at the base of the scrum.

Subs:

Elliot Dee (for Owens 77) N/A

Nicky Smith (for Evans 61) 6.5

Continued the work that was started by Evans.

Dillon Lewis (for Francis 61) 7

A busy cameo from the prop.

Adam Beard (for Hill 71) N/A

Aaron Wainwright (for Moriarty 77) N/A

Aled Davies (for Gareth Davies 77) N/A

Dan Biggar (for Anscombe 61) 8

Was much more dynamic than Anscombe and was arguably the difference. Will surely start against Scotland.

Owen Watkin (for Parkes 79) N/A

England

Elliot Daly (Full-back) – 5.5

Missed a penalty in the early stages. Struggled to make any yards when gathering Wales kicks, and was beaten by Adams in the air to cap a disappointing display.

Jack Nowell (Winger) – 6.5

Made yards whenever the ball eventually reached him, but Wales’ defence meant he was unable to produce anything spectacular.

Henry Slade (Centre) – 7

Wasn’t as influential as in the first two games, but made more metres that any other England player (63) thanks to his pace.

Manu Tuilagi (Centre) – 7

Still doesn’t look at his very, very best, but carried well as the game went on and made a cracking tackle on Parkes.

Jonny May (Winger) – 6

Was kept very quiet, and had little influence on the game. Had to leave the field with a head injury.

Owen Farrell (Fly-half) – 6

He started poorly compared to his own high standards, but was able to offer England hope with his kicking from hand and the tee.

Ben Youngs (Scrum-half) – 6

Box-kicks were decent, didn’t make too many errors but was unable to help his team unlock a sturdy Welsh defence.

Ben Moon (Prop) – 6

Grafted for 76 minutes, and did his best to keep Wales at bay. Battled well against Exeter team made Francis in the scrum.

Jamie George (Hooker) – 7.5

Has been a fantastic replacement for Dylan Hartley and was very effective again against Wales. One of England’s best performers.

Kyle Sinckler (Prop) – 7

Started the game terrifically, making some thunderous tackles and carries. Struggled to maintain his discipline after half time and was subbed off following a risky choke tackle.

Courtney Lawes (Second-row) – 7.5

A typically physical display from the big lock and set up Curry’s try with a brilliant steal in the lineout. England will hope the injury isn’t too serious.

George Kruis (Second-row) – 7.5

Made 17 tackles in just over an hour, hit some good lines, and was a nuisance in the lineout. Another England player who can hold his head up high in defeat.

Mark Wilson (Flanker) – 7

Making the blindside position his own with consistent performances. Has another level to reach though if he wants to come out on top of back rows as good as Wales’.

Tom Curry (Flanker) – 7.5

Worked hard, and looks like he will be a fantastic player for England over the coming years. Showed intelligence and took responsibility for his try.

Billy Vunipola (Number eight) – 6

Not his best day both with and without the ball. Will be disappointed to have been overshadowed by Moriarty. Perhaps still finding his best form after a long injury layoff.

Subs:

Ellis Genge (for Moon 77) N/A

Harry Williams (for Sinckler 58) 7

Picked up where Sinckler left off with his tackling.,

Joe Launchbury (for Kruis 64) 6

Not massively involved, not as good as Kruis.

Brad Shields (for Lawes 75) N/A

Joe Cokanasiga (for May 70) 5.5 Offered the same as May did to the game unfortunately; nothing

Full Match Highlights below:

6 Nations

May Issues Injury Update

England ace Jonny May has provided the public with an injury update after undergoing surgery

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(Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England winger Jonny May has taken to social media to provide the public with an update on his fractured cheekbone.

The 29-year-old picked up the injury early on in England’s win over Wales in the Six Nations and was forced off. It was later revealed that he would have to undergo surgery, but following that he has said he is raring to go and be sharper than before. 

“It’s never good picking up an injury but I will use this as an opportunity to regenerate/sharpen up and will be doing everything I can to get back on the pitch as soon as possible,” he said in his post. 

There is no exact timeline on when May could return to Premiership side Leicester Tigers and feature, with the club claiming he will miss an “extended period” after the surgery. 

However, with many leagues across the globe putting a halt to their campaigns due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports claim that the Premiership will follow suit in the next couple of days meaning it means May might not miss much rugby at all while injured. 

Depending on how it all works out May will probably be aiming for a return before the summer in order to get some minutes under his belt before England take on Japan in their two-test tour. 

It’s all up in the air at the moment, but it’s good to know that May is on the mend and relishing a return to play.

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6 Nations

Wales Switch Four for Scotland Game

Wales have made four changes to their starting line-up for this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Scotland

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(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has made a total of four changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations game with Scotland in the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

Three of the four changes come in the pack with Wyn Jones and WillGriff John coming into the front-row, while Cory Hill comes in for Jake Ball in the second-row, in what will be his first test start for over a year. 

The only alteration in the backs sees Rhys Webb take the place of Gareth Davies, who drops to the bench. 

Elsewhere it’s the same as last time out against England with Ken Owens in the front-three alongside Jones and John, while Hill links up with captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row, with the skipper set to equal the world record for test caps with 148 during the game. 

The back-row has remained the same with Ross Moriarty staying in as blindside-flanker, Justin Tipuric continues on the openside and Josh Navidi remains at No 8. 

Webb partners Dan Biggar in the half-backs, while Hadleigh Parkes and Nick Tompkins are once again used in the centre-pairing. 

Liam Williams takes his place on the left-wing again, with George North on the right and Leigh Halfpenny finishes off the starting XV from full-back. 

On the bench there is a huge amount of talent with the likes of Rhys Carre, Taulupe Faletau and Johnny McNicholl joining Davies among the replacements. 

Speaking ahead of the game Pivac paid tribute to his captain and hopes the team can get a much-needed win. 

“Saturday is a great opportunity for us to wrap up the campaign with a big performance at home in Cardiff. We want to finish with the performance we know we can deliver and we have been working hard to get there. Alun Wyn is one of the most iconic figures in the game, he is our leader and I’m delighted for him as he continues to set the bar across the game,” he said. 

Wales will hope to avoid a fourth defeat in a row when they take on the Scots on Saturday, but they come up against a side who are on a high after seeing off Italy and France in their last two games. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below. 

Starting XV: 

Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, WillGriff John; Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (C); Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi

Replacements: 

Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl

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6 Nations

Scotland Change Three for Welsh Test

Scotland have made a total of three changes to their starting line-up for their final game in this year’s Six Nations against Wales

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales at the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

All the changes come in the forwards with Stuart McInally taking over at hooker from Fraser Brown, who in turn drops to the bench.

Like Brown, Scott Cummings also move to the replacements as Sam Skinner takes a spot in the second-row and lastly Magnus Bradbury replaces Nick Haining at No 8, with Haining currently ill.

Elsewhere it’s as you where from the team that defeated France last weekend with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson either side of McInally in the front-row, while Skinner joins Grant Gilchrist in the engine-room.

Jamie Ritchie continues as blindside-flanker, with Hamish Watson on the openside and Bradbury completes the pack from No 8.

Ali Price remains at scrum-half, with Adam Hastings at fly-half, and they have Sam Johnson and Chris Harris outside them in the midfield pairing.

Blair Kinghorn is once again on the left-wing, with two-try hero from last weekend Sean Maitland continuing on the right and Stuart Hogg captains the side from full-back.

There is a mix of experience and youth on the bench with the likes of Brown and Cummings being joined by Matt Fagerson and Kyle Steyn among the replacements.

Speaking ahead of the game Townsend admitted he is hoping that his team can build on their win last week.

“We set out this season to improve our consistency over a run of five tough games, something we have done well so far. We’ve stayed in the fight in every game, which is a credit to how hard the players have worked in training and during the Tests. It’s also been encouraging to see how well the players have grown together and have taken on board the input from new coaches, Steve (Tandy) and Pieter (de Villiers), who have done a great job in their first season with the team. We have huge respect for the Welsh team, who narrowly missed out on a World Cup final a few months ago. They are well-coached and have some outstanding players. It will be a fantastic occasion and one last opportunity to play to our potential in this championship,” he said.

Scotland will hope that they can pull off a first win on Welsh soil for 18 years on Saturday and know victory will see them finish above their rivals in the table. However, they will face a Welsh team desperate to avoid a fourth loss in a row.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

  1. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) – 76 caps
  2. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 48 caps
  3. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 18 caps
  4. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  5. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 21 caps
  6. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps
  7. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
  8. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 7 caps
  9. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 37 caps
  10. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
  11. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 7 caps
  12. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 42 caps
  13. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
  14. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 32 caps
  15. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 14 caps

Replacements:

  1. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps
  2. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 32 caps
  3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 38 caps
  4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps
  5. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
  6. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  7. Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors) – 28 caps
  8. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap

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