Oval Talk

England savour sweet revenge for Cardiff mauling

Oval Talk

View photo


A year ago, huddled on the Millennium Stadium pitch as Wales loudly celebrated their title-clinching thrashing of his England team, captain Chris Robshaw told his players to "bank that feeling" and make sure they never had to suffer it again.

On Sunday, after a dominating 29-18 revenge victory that kept England in the hunt for the championship and ended Welsh hopes of a third successive title, the flanker made sure he enjoyed the moment.

"It's a massive scalp - we all know what happened last year," Robshaw told reporters. "We'd lost the last two times we'd played them and we needed some momentum back. We've now got ourselves back into contention, and we're ticking along."

Almost everything that went wrong for England in Cardiff went right at Twickenham on Sunday, while Wales looked a pale shadow of the team who provided the bulk of the British and Irish Lions side that claimed a series victory in Australia.

Twelve of those Lions were in red again on Sunday but it was England who were superior in every department and who go into their final game in Italy knowing a win will almost certainly bring them their second title in 11 years should France round out the championship by beating Ireland in Paris.

Only six of England's starting team from Cardiff began Sunday's game and those who were on duty caught Wales cold with their ambition and sharpness.

Running back kicks from deep and throwing the ball around in their own 22, the hosts showed a real appetite for attack and the contrast with the visitors was perfectly illustrated by Danny Care's tap-penalty score after five minutes, the scrumhalf taking full advantage of a sleeping Welsh defence.

"That summed us up today," said Welsh defence coach Shaun Edwards. "We've practised it all week, defending against Danny Care, but Leigh Halfpenny walked into his own player trying to get to him and there was a huge hole."

Lancaster, unsurprisingly, saw things through rather more red-rose tinted spectacles, as did the Twickenham fans, who played their part just as the Welsh had last year.

"We've tried to remove the fear of playing and when you've got the courage of your convictions it generally pays off," said the coach, who has now beaten every major international team except South Africa in just over two years in charge.

"It's nice to get the win to put last year's result in Cardiff to bed. We lost fair and square on that day but this was our day and we deserved to win."

While Lancaster was enjoying his first win over the Welsh, Warren Gatland had little explanation for how things had turned in the opposite direction so emphatically.

The Welsh scrum, which crushed England in Cardiff, was on the receiving end on Sunday and, after repeated warnings over his technique, prop Gethin Jenkins was sin-binned in the 53rd minute.

A Welsh defence that had not conceded a try to England in three successive wins missed a painful 24 tackles and coughed up two tries in the opening 35 minutes.

Their all-Lions back three also had a day to forget. George North wasted his side's best opportunity with a bizarre option to kick when Dan Lydiate was free and clear outside him, while Alex Cuthbert, the two-try hero of Cardiff, was anonymous.

Leigh Halfpenny delivered his usual faultless goal-kicking with six successful penalty attempts but his tactical kicking was poor and he suffered a dislocated shoulder late on that has ended his season.

"It's been tough on these players in retrospect," said  Gatland. "Two championship seasons, a Lions tour, it's been a long 18 months for a lot of them.

"But England deserved to win the game, they played pretty well today."


View comments (25)