England open Six Nations defence with two wins

England opened their Six Nations defence with two wins: an unconvincing 19-16 win over France at Twickenham, and a late 21-16 victory over Wales.

Against Wales on Saturday evening, England grabbed the win with a late try from Elliot Daly.

England took the lead in that game thanks to an early Ben Youngs try, but Wales came back to lead 13-8 at half-time through a try from Liam Williams, converted by Leigh Halfpenny, who also scored two penalties in the first half.

Halfpenny added another penalty after the break, while England’s hopes were kept alive by the boot of Owen Farrell, who scored three penalties. With the score 16-14 in Wales’ favour, Daly broke through to to make it 19-16 and Farrell converted to put the game beyond Wales.

The closely fought battle with France produced only two tries, with France prop Rabah Slimani scoring the opener. England looked to be in trouble when they were still four points behind on 70 minutes, but Ben Te’o powered through to turn the match around.

England kept the game level at half-time through two penalties from Farrell and an impressive long-ranger from Daly. Farrell added a further penalty after the break.

Daly, playing left wing, thought he had opened the scoring with a try six minutes into the second half, but replays showed that he was just about dragged into touch as he dived over.

The win was England’s 15th victory in a row, setting a new national record in the process. The previous record was 14 consecutive wins, set during the run-up to the 2003 World Cup – a tournament which England won. The all-time record is 17, which was set by New Zealand last year.

France are on an awful run, having now lost six successive away matches.

Wales beat Italy 33-7 in their opener, with a scoreline which makes the win seem a lot more comfortable than it was.

Italy defended very strongly in the first half, and got the first try through Edoardo Gori. Wales battled back to take the lead at 9-7 thanks to three penalties from Halfpenny. Wales then finally started to show their quality and dominated after their first try opened the floodgates.

Jonathan Davies and Williams both scored tries, before George North, who had earlier appeared to be struggling with injury, raced through to score the third try. Halfpenny converted all three.

There was some disappointment for Wales at the end as they narrowly missed out on a bonus point, a rule introduced for this year’s tournament which means that teams get an extra point if they manage to score four or more tries. Williams came very close to earning the tournament’s first ever bonus point, but he lost control of the ball over the line.

Scotland beat Ireland 27-22 at Murrayfield, despite a spirited second half comeback.

The home side led 21-8 at half-time, thank to two tries from Stuart Hogg and one from Alex Dunbar. Ireland managed a try of their own through Keith Earls, but they went into the break needing a spectacular turnaround.

Second half tries from Iain Henderson and Paddy Jackson helped Ireland to lead for the first time in the game at 22-21, before two late penalties from Greig Laidlaw sealed the win for Scotland.


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James Chesson

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May 2022
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