Six Nations 2012: Wales edge out England to seal Triple Crown
Wales win the Triple Crown after Scott Williams' late try decided an enthralling Six Nations clash at Twickenham
Wales sealed the Triple Crown and won at Twickenham for only the second time since 1988 in an enthralling match after a last-minute video referee decision went against David Strettle.
England drove forward with the clock running down at 12-19 and nearly escaped with a deserved draw. Toby Flood swung over a wonderful pass to Mike Brown, who sent Strettle into the corner but replays were inconclusive and the referee blew for the final whistle.
Strettle clearly had his hand on the ball but whether it was a downward movement will be debated for the rest of the Championship.
The away side exerted the early pressure, inspired by the towering George North. Within three minutes Mike Phillips broke the England line and George North was denied a try by a superb last-ditch tackle by Strettle.
Warren Gatland’s side continued to camp in England’s 22 during the entire first quarter with some relentless pressure but the home side’s back line stood firm.
Leigh Halfpenny had the chance to take the lead for the visitors after 17 phases of brutal Welsh pressure – but his kick went well wide.
Instead, England managed to finally conjure up an attack and some brave breaks from Lee Dickson and Manu Tuilagi earned the home side a penalty.
Owen Farrell duly obliged but England were immediately pegged back when Halfpenny made up for his early error.
Stuart Lancaster’s side then enjoyed a series of sustained pressure, with Tuilagi managing to gain ground and create chances. Sam Warburton managed to halt Tuilagi with a remarkable tackle when he seemed destined for the line.
Again Wales’ defence had to react at the last minute when Farrell chipped a delightful ball over the Wales back line – but he was wiped out by the sensational North. Still, England knew they had the penalty and lead 6-3 as Farrell continued to impress with the boot.
Moments later, Wales responded when Strettle was guilty of holding on – but the remarkably cool Farrell kicked England into a 9-6 half-time lead.
The absent Charlie Hodgson had earned England two tries from charge downs in this year’s Six Nations and Mouritz Botha nearly replicated his team-mate on 45 minutes, blocking Rhys Priestland’s clearance.
Priestland sacrificed himself, tackling from an offside position and was ordered to the sin-bin whilst Farrell extended England’s lead to 12-6.
However, Wales were not punished for losing a man and in fact added to their total. Dylan Hartley was cautioned and Halfpenny made it 12-9.
England had the chance to extend their lead with a penalty as sloppy play from Priestland wasted another promsing Welsh move.
Unfortunately for the home side, Farrell picked up a leg injury in a collision and was replaced by Flood as England looked to close out the game.
Scott Williams should have found the try-line on 68 minutes but a brutal Ben Foden tackle rescued England and Ben Youngs managed to clear.
Wales kept the advantage and levelled after Robshaw turned Warburton in the air and was lucky to escape without a yellow card.
Williams broke English hearts on 76 minutes, capitalising on Courtney Lawes misjudgement to run clear, evading Foden’s tackle and scoring the game’s first try. Priestland managed to tap over the conversion as Gatland’s side went 19-12 ahead.
England drove up the other end and pounded the Welsh back line and drama ensued as Flood’s exceptional cross-field pass found Brown and then Strettle in the corner.
The video referee was called as a cacophony of celebrations erupted around Twickenham but the no-try call broke English hearts to trigger wild Welsh celebrations.