Wales overcome England 21-13 to be last unbeaten team in 6N

By Associated Press 23 February 2019, 12:00AM

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Wales had a hand on the Six Nations rugby trophy as the only undefeated team after overcoming England 21-13 on Saturday.

In a match high on tension but low on quality between the championship's last two unbeaten sides, Wales made all the running but was losing until its first try 12 minutes from the end by lock Cory Hill. Replacement flyhalf Dan Biggar made the last pass after a 34-phase attack.

That put Wales ahead 14-13, and home fans in the sold-out Principality Stadium were singing for the first time since before kickoff.

Biggar converted from the sideline for 16-13 and then made the scoreline finally reflect Welsh dominance when his crosskick was juggled and caught by wing Josh Adams, who scrambled over the line for their second and final try in the 78th minute.

After an error-ridden first half by the Welsh, who kept letting England off the hook, they kept better control of the ball in the second and pounded the visitors into submission. It took more than an hour, but Eddie Jones' men finally broke after having led 10-3 at halftime.

It added up to Wales earning a 12th straight win, a national record, and a first victory over England in six years.

It also put the Grand Slam in sight, with a visit to Scotland in two weeks, and back home for the last round against defending champion Ireland. That ought to be a crackling atmosphere to rival Saturday, when England came to Cardiff favored and in dazzling form.

Wales won its first two matches, too, but both against France and Italy were flaky, and it seemed to continue in that vein through the first half as it struggled to sustain any attack.

An early attacking lineout was wasted, one of two throw-ins stolen in the half, and there was too much kicking from hand, notably by flyhalf Gareth Anscombe, with men outside him and England on the back foot. Knock-ons and turnovers at the breakdown by Wales all conspired to give the visitors relief.

England took its first try-scoring chance, a counterattack after Wales hooker Ken Owens had the ball swiped from his grip by Courtney Lawes.

In a flash, England set up a ruck in the Wales 22, and suddenly flanker Tom Curry popped out and beat fullback Liam Williams to the try-line. The Welsh stood around wondering where the defense was.

The defense showed its true colors in an extended injury time when England threw an 11-man scrum at Wales, which just held out.

Just as against France, when it won from 16-0 down at halftime, the Welsh clicked in the second half. Catches stuck, kicks were fewer but more effective, and pressure was put on England.

England's Jonny May was penalized for failing to release. Anscombe kicked over the penalty.

Then Kyle Sinckler was penalized for obstructing Anscombe, who kicked that one to touch. Sinckler, who Wales coach Warren Gatland called an "emotional timebomb" in the run-up for brain fades, was penalized again for choking home captain Alun Wyn Jones in a tackle. Anscombe nailed that penalty, Sinckler was yanked off, and Wales trailed by only a point.

Owen Farrell kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 13-9, and England might have regained momentum when Jones threw a pass to England. But England knocked-on and Wales, with fresh props Nicky Smith and Dillon Lewis, charged into the visitors for 34 phases, roused by the fans.

George North speared for the right corner flag and was stopped, by Biggar, who had just replaced Anscombe, played scrumhalf for a charging Hill, who burrowed his 1.96-meter frame under two defenders to score and put Wales ahead for the first time.

Hill was picked to improve Wales' lineout, but he played himself into the ground, and the try was his last act on the field.

With still more than 10 minutes to go, Wales was flying. Catches were falling into hands, and red jerseys were spearing through the flagging England defense.

Biggar, the British Lion saved by Gatland to finish off England, did just that with a crosskick that Adams rose above Elliot Daly to catch and score.

Moments later, Wales was walking a lap of honor.

By Associated Press 23 February 2019, 12:00AM

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