England keep Six Nations hopes alive

England beat Wales 29-18 at Twickenham to win a first Triple Crown in 11 years, ensuring they remain in contention.

    Danny Care and Luther Burrell scored first-half tries and fly half Owen Farrell didn't miss a kick at goal [AFP]
    Danny Care and Luther Burrell scored first-half tries and fly half Owen Farrell didn't miss a kick at goal [AFP]

    England blew away Wales with a display of intensity, clinical finishing and perfect place-kicking to win 29-18 at Twickenham, taking the Triple Crown and setting up a three-way fight for the Six Nations title next weekend.

    Danny Care and Luther Burrell scored first-half tries and flyhalf Owen Farrell didn't miss with five penalty attempts and two conversions, ending Welsh hopes of capturing an unprecedented third straight championship outright.

    Wales, who thrashed England 30-3 in the Six Nations title decider in Cardiff last year, were dominated in almost every facet of the game and only stayed in contention thanks to fullback Leigh Halfpenny's own blemish-free record of six penalties.

    We've tried to remove the fear of playing, and when you've got the courage of your convictions, it generally pays off.

    Stuart Lancaster, England coach

    "We've tried to remove the fear of playing, and when you've got the courage of your convictions, it generally pays off,'' England coach Stuart Lancaster said.

    "It's nice to put last year's result in Cardiff to bed. We lost fair and square on that day, but today was our day.'' 

    On Saturday Ireland put themselves in pole position for their first Six Nations title in five years with a comfortable 46-7 win over Italy as talismanic centre Brian O'Driscoll became the most capped international player ever in his final home game.

    O'Driscoll made decisive passes to set up three tries and sparked the biggest cheer of the day when he left the field after 62 minutes to end his world record 140th game for Ireland.

    Jonathon Sexton scored two tries, with Andrew Trimble, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath also touching down. An early try by Leonardo Sarto and some fierce Italian defending failed to dampen the Irish party.

    An Irish victory over France in Paris in the last match of the championship next week would give O'Driscoll the dream end to his glittering career, unless England, France or Wales can win twice and claw back a deficit of over 60 points.

    Heartbreak for Scotland

    France won a thrilling victory over a spirited Scotland at Murrayfield, their eighth in a row in the fixture.

    Scotland led 14-9 at half-time, full-back Stuart Hogg touching down after a hopeful high kick and wing Tommy Seymour crossing for the hosts.

    France wing Yoann Huget scored an interception try after an ill-advised miss-pass by Duncan Weir, but Weir regained the lead for Scotland with a penalty.

    Scott Johnston's side looked to have done enough to secure a deserved victory, only for replacement scrum-half Jean Marc Doussain to win it with a last-gasp penalty.

    England join France and Ireland on six points from four matches.

    Ireland have a far superior points difference of the three, so a victory over the French in their last match will surely give Brian O'Driscoll the title in his last match for the Irish before retirement.

    England simply have to beat Italy in Rome - which should be a given on this performance - and hope for the best.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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