Six Nations: Wales 19-12 England

THERE was nothing to choose between these two teams for 75 of the allotted 80 minutes, which was when Welsh midfield substitute Scott Williams popped up with a bit of individual brilliance to give Wales only their second win at Twickenham since 1990.

The classy centre replaced Jamie Roberts at half time and he had already fluffed an obvious scoring opportunity, ignoring Leigh Halfpenny on the left and taking the tackle of Ben Foden instead.

Perhaps he had that mistake in mind a little later because he made amends quite brilliantly. Firstly Williams stripped the strapping lock Courtney Lawes of the ball, an achievement in itself. But not satisfied with that, the centre set off towards the English line, chipped ahead and won the race to the bounce before making a swallow dive over the line. If Chris Ashton was amused he didn’t show it.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Halfpenny kicked that conversion to add to his four penalties but the match still had five-odd minutes to play and England were far from done. They laid siege to the Welsh line and had several good chances to even things up. The forwards marched a couple of mauls towards the line, only for the Welsh to concede the penalty rather than the score.

Even with the clock well into the red numbers, English winger David Strettle was convinced he’d scored in the right-hand corner as Toby Flood’s huge miss pass found Mike Brown wide on the right. The full-back passed to Strettle who will go to his deathbed claiming a valid score. The Scottish television match official, Iain Ramage, thought otherwise, calling the footage “inconclusive” and Wales could celebrate a Triple Crown, their first ever won at Twickenham.

It was a fascinating match between two evenly matched sides. Roberts crashed the ball up for Wales very effectively and Manu Tuilagi did the same for the home side. The packs bashed each other to a standstill and the kickers both made four out of five penalty attempts. .

It seemed as if Wales would waltz to the win in the opening quarter because the visitors raced out of the blocks and looked unstoppable. England barely touched the ball in that period and what little possession they did earn they kicked away.

Wales’ George North could have scored a try while the late-comers were still finding their seats but the giant winger was only denied by a flying tap tackle from Strettle.

But the tide turned and England began to believe, especially when Halfpenny fluffed his first chance of points, sending an early penalty well wide. Instead Owen Farrell nudged the home side into the lead on 22 minutes and the English in the crowd and on the field responded.

Tuilagi had an enticing opportunity to score in the second quarter but was stopped by a text-book tackle around the boot straps from Sam Warburton. If there was a difference between the sides it was at half-back, where Rhys Priestland had one of his less effective games in a red shirt while Farrell was immense for England. It may not have been a coincidence that the playmaker was off the field when Wales grabbed won the game late on.

Priestland was yellow-carded when he was well offside when stopping Alex Corbisiero from moving the ball wide for a probable try. Farrell kicked the three points from the resulting penalty but Wales got three back before Priestland returned to the field.

England looked in good nick defending a 9-6 lead which was squeezed out to 12-6 and then back to 12-9. Farrell then missed his one kick at goal, an important one that would have stretched England’s lead to six. Instead Halfpenny levelled the scores, Matt Stevens was pinged for hands in the ruck, before replacement Williams made his dramatic, late, solo and heroic contribution to Welsh rugby folklore.