Six Nations: Last-ditch heroics keep Grand Slam dreams alive


England opened with a bonus-point win over underdog Italy, but against arch-rival Wales at Twickenham Saturday its 12-6 victory turned on two key moments.

Leading 12-3, but with Wales looking dangerous after the introduction of George North, Scott Williams charged for the England line and looked certain to score as he dived for the try line over the slippery turf.

However, he reckoned without England substitute Simon Underhill, who had tracked his run and timed his tackle to perfection, pushing an astonished Williams in to touch.

Gareth Anscombe’s late penalty then narrowed the gap to six points, but England held on for its 15th consecutive Six Nations home victory.

It was Anscombe who was at the center of the game’s other major talking point as he appeared to ground the ball for a first-half try. Photos and slow-motion freezes of the TV coverage appeared to indicate that was indeed the case, but the television referee ruled otherwise.

Wales coach Warren Gatland called it a “terrible mistake” as his side narrowly lost out having thrashed Scotland in its opener.

England had made a confident start, with a pair of Jonny May tries, the second converted by Owen Farrell, to lead 12-0, but could not add to its advantage as Wales mounted a spirited but luckless fightback

“I’m sure Wales will claim they were unlucky, and maybe they were, but we have a TMO up there that makes the decision, England coach Eddie Jones said.

“I don’t make the decision, the TMO does.”

Rampant Irish

After its scare in Paris, Ireland ran in eight converted tries against Italy, with centre Robbie Henshaw and flying winger Jacob Stockdale both crossing twice.

Man-of-the-match Conor Murray, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls and skipper Rory Best added the others as Ireland extended its nine-game winning streak, including the victory over England in Dublin last season, denying its opponent the Grand Slam.

Italy fought back after a one-sided opening half to score second half tries through Tommaso Allan, Eduardo Gori and Matteo Minozzi, some consolation for its coach and former Ireland international Conor O’Shea.

Scotland sinks France

Scotland rebounded from its opening round defeat to Wales with a battling 32-26 win over France at Murrayfield Sunday.

France, beaten at the last by Sexton’s kick on the opening weekend, looked set to make amends as it led 20-14 at the half with Teddy Thomas going over for two converted tries.

Tries from Sean Maitland and Huw Jones kept the Scots in touch, backed up by the boot of man-of-the-match Greig Laidlaw.

There were no further tries in the second half, but two penalties from Baptiste Serin saw the French 26-20 to the good with over an hour played.

However, a rousing finish by the Scots saw that lead disappear as Laidlaw landed four well-struck penalties to turn the match around and secure victory for his side, only its third over the French since the Six Nations started in 2000

Laidlaw, returning after injury was delighted to have played his part but paid tribute to his teammates.

“I’m so proud of whole team, we really dug in deep at the end and the forward pack in particular,” he said.

He will be looking for a similar performance and result when the Scots host England at Murrayfield in a fortnight in the third round of matches.

France after two narrow defeats will be hoping to get its first victory at home to Italy, while Wales go to Dublin to play Ireland in another key encounter.

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