Rob Howley: Wales’ Six Nations title defence better than last year’s Slam
Rob Howley heralds Wales' defence of their Six Nations crown as better than last year's Grand Slam after win over England
Wales interim head coach Rob Howley heralded the defence of the Six Nations crown as better than last year’s Grand Slam after swatting England aside in Cardiff.
Two fine tries from Alex Cuthbert in a dominant second-half performance from Wales stunned England and saw Wales leapfrog their visitors to the top of the Six Nations title with a 30-3 victory.
Just as they had done in 1999 – when Howley was captain – Wales burst England’s Grand Slam bubble and while they had to win by at least eight points to defend their crown, there was little doubt after Cuthbert’s first score.
England were still in the game at half-time, trailing 9-3 at the break thanks to three Leigh Halfpenny penalties to Owen Farrell’s one.
But Wales turned up the heat in the second half and Lancaster’s side couldn’t cope, conceding 21 unanswered points despite some resolute defence on their try-line.
Successfully defending their title seemed a long way away when Wales opened their campaign with a 30-22 defeat to Ireland in Cardiff but impressive and hard-fought victories on the road over France, Italy and Scotland opened up the possibility of doing just that.
And while Wales swept all before them last year, claiming a third Grand Slam in eight years, Howley – assistant to Warren Gatland 12 months ago – insists this success tastes even sweeter.
“This is better than the Grand Slam last year, to do what we’ve done,” said Howley.
“To turn things around after that first 40 minutes against Ireland, the players showed great fortitude and outclassed England.
“We kept on sending the message that good teams don’t become bad teams overnight and we were consistent with that message.
“The players have gone out and delivered. The Millennium Stadium is a unique place in world rugby and we felt with our experience and the crowd behind us we needed to start well.
“We were outstanding. We talked beforehand about our discipline and attitude and we delivered.”