Wales thumped England 30-3 in Cardiff on Saturday evening to secure a successful defence of their RBS Six Nations crown and deny England a first Grand Slam in ten years.
A brace of tries from winger Alex Cuthbert swept Wales to a record 27-point win over their Anglo rivals in an exhilarating top of the table climax to this year’s competition.
An off-colour, inexperienced England coughed up good chances at vital times to hand Wales the momentum and the win in a brutal northern hemisphere encounter in the Millennium Stadium.
A breathtaking opening half saw both sides launching bodies into both defensive lines, and only ill-discipline from England at the break down gave Wales the upper hand early on.
Wales took the lead through the ever-reliable boot of Lee Halfpenny when Ben Youngs was caught not rolling away at the bottom of a ruck in the English 22.
Another seven minutes of smash and counter smash saw England once again sloppy at the ruck, conceding a penalty on the half-way line, which Halfpenny easily drifted over the uprights for a 6-0 lead.
England registered their first points with a penalty goal from fly-half Owen Farrell three minutes later to keep the nervous energy riding high inside the first quarter.
Another Halfpenny penalty, thanks to the Welsh go-forward at scrum time, and an uncharacteristic miss from Farrell took Wales to a 9-3 lead as the tempo refused to abate and continued to intensify.
The game continued to explode from end-to-end and only a heroic last-gasp tap tackle from English winger Mike Brown on Welsh counterpart George North prevented an inevitable try for the home side after the Cymru reds had intercepted an English attack.
Wales’ six point lead at the break was deserved on the whole, after Manu Tuilagi had coughed up England’s best attacking chance.
The red dragons had England under the cosh at the break, clocking up 199 meters made to England’s 151, in an exhilarating opening 40 minutes of incredible physicality.
After what was a slow burner compared with the first half, the second 40 minutes started with an aerial battle which bred mistakes from full-back Halfpenny and Goode.
But it was the home side who capitalised on the kicking mistakes and opened the scoring. Halfpenny’s fourth successful penalty came after an attacking deluge from the home side which saw Welsh bodies battering away at the English line.
England responded with some pressure of their own in the Welsh half, but it was Wales who ineluctably breached the whitewash.
Alex Cuthbert raced 30 plus meters along the right flank and shrugged off a desperate tackle attempt from Brown to cross the line after Wales turned-over an English ruck in midfield, despite Gethin Jenkins clearly winning the ball with both knees on the floor at the breakdown.
Another pulled penalty from Farrell the England fly-half losing his personal duel with Halfpenny and epitomising England’s second-rate performance.
Wales continued to pour forwards in numbers. A Dan Biggar drop-goal took Wales 20-3 up before Cuthbert scored his second of the game.
A scintillating break through the heart of England’s defence from blinside flanker Sam Warburton took Wales into the English half before the fleet-footed flanker, and man of the match, Justin Tipuric showed tremendous poise and accurate hands to create another opening for Cuthbert to stroll over the English line and take Wales into an unassailable 27-3 lead.
Three more points from the boot of fly-half Biggar confirmed the start of the Welsh party while England looked out on their feet and ready for the bus back to London.