The BBC’s homage to the HBO fantasy blockbuster, Game of Thrones, was well timed in readiness for the biggest opening clash for a decade.
The scene was all set for a repeat of the 2013 showdown spectacular (Super Saturday 2013 – Capitulation in Cardiff), but Lancasters’s Lannisters made sure this was not the case for the tournament’s opener. Gatland had played the Game of Thrones and lost: his claims of a fatally maimed English pack proved wildly exaggerated, as England showed its prowess in depth, exposing only a one dimensional Wales flock.
The battle started well for the hosts, as Webb put Wales ahead of the charge with an early, unexpected, try. England fought back, giving Joseph his first opportunity to cross the finish line for his country. The last attack was all Wales, with Biggar’s drop goal sounding the end of the first forty minutes. At half time, the stadium was electric, as the visitors trailed 16 points to 8, a deficit never before overcome at Cardiff. But the anticipated fall-out failed to materialise in the second half, as England’s 13 points remained uncontested. With Wales’ mis-tackle count the biggest of the weekend, it was only fitting that the most crucial of all tackles made in the game came courtesy of the Welsh post, denying Haskell his fourth try against his favourite rivals.
Final score: Wales 16 – England 21.The game had it all. Blood, Fire and Ice, but there was no ignoring the fact that Wales had been out-classed in the Cardiff chill. Next Sunday, Wales will go beyond Hadrian’s Wall to face the Northmen of Murrayfield, their hopes of Grand Slam and Triple Crown victories having been decimated at the first assault.
Let the battle for the realm continue…