It’s CRUNCH time!!!
Of one thing we could be certain: Whatever the result of the England v Wales fixture, tears would be shed in Cardiff.
The final round of the 2013 RBS Six Nations tournament ended in historic fashion, as Howley’s fifteen thwarted Lancaster’s bombers’ hopes of attaining their first Grand Slam title since 2003. And bombed they did, with England suffering their biggest EVER defeat at the hands of their ancient rivals, Wales.
The green, green grass of our Homeland was, for 80 minutes, transformed into a primal battleground: with the pride of two Nations at stake, each and every player stepped up to put his body and soul on the line for the cause. The first half’s intensity, however, forged only penalties, with Mike Brown denying George North a break-away try with an urgent tap-tackle just before the 40 minute whistle sounded. A marginal 9-3 half-time score meant the game was there for anyone’s taking.
But Wales returned from the dragon’s lair with zealous determination, their relentless dominance deep within England territory paved the way for two spectacular tries from winger Alex Cuthbert. Whilst Spikey acted as a cool-headed plunderer at scrum-half, Warburton and Tipuric proved to be Wales’ very own Magnificent Seven(s). Halfpenny continued his stoical brilliance at full-back.
At 27-3, it was game-over for England, but Biggar cemented Wales’ place at the top of the Championship with a final 3 point penalty at the 70 minute mark. A dejected England team could only stand by as victory in Cardiff ebbed decisively from Jerusalem towards Cwm Rhondda.
A Grand Slam squandered, maybe, but Wales’ usurping of the Championship was nothing short of extraordinary. The result? Possibly one of the greatest Six Nations’ clashes in recent times, or at the very least, the best game I will ever have the privilege of attending in my lifetime.
The English team should, however, take some comfort that the French had had an even worse day, having regressed into the depths of the Championship table. Despite winning their last game of the tournament against the Scots, France collected their first ever Six Nations wooden spoon.
Italy highlighted the trial and tribulations of Ireland’s poor performance throughout the tournament (its display against Wales in the first weekend aside, that is!), by beating the Irish with a convincing 22-15 scoreboard.
It has been an overwhelmingly unpredictable tournament, and this weekend’s season finale served as a reminder for why we love the Six Nations Championship so.
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