6N: England downs Wales 33-30 to keep pressure on France
LONDON (AP) — England could yet steal the Six Nations crown from France after seeing off Wales 33-30 at Twickenham on Saturday.
The English have rebounded from their drubbing in Paris on the opening day to beat Scotland, Ireland and Wales and earn the Triple Crown.
But their chase of unbeaten France goes into limbo because the new coronavirus caused their last-round match against Italy in Rome next weekend to be postponed. The English have done what they can, though, to have France feeling their breath down their necks and a little extra anxious not to slip up against Scotland on Sunday or Ireland next week to claim the crown.
Certainly, England made Wales uncomfortable until Ellis Genge was yellow-carded and Manu Tuilagi was red-carded in the last minutes. Wales, 33-16 down, exploited the situation with two converted tries to give themselves a flattering scoreline.
For the first hour, England dominated the kickfest. When Wales tried to run, it was constantly cut down by white shirts behind the gainline and hassled at the breakdown. Wales struggled to sustain anything, while England was slick and accurate, and executing every chance it had in Wales' 22.
Winger Anthony Watson, playing his first match in eight weeks, was over in the fourth minute. A spilled pass by Wales was returned with interest by Maro Itoje and Watson to set up a lineout. Scrumhalf Ben Youngs, in superb form, drew Wales wide off the ruck and flicked inside for Watson, who stepped Tomos Williams and reached out to score.
After both sides exchanged penalties while they niggled at each other off the ball, Youngs burst from another ruck, Wales wing George North was dummied, and George Ford gave Elliot Daly an overlap to score in the left corner.
Wales, forced into 12 handling errors alone in the first half in the face of England's rush defense, grabbed a penalty kick in injury time but was seeing England beginning to ride over the horizon at 20-9 up.
England kicked off the second half, and Wales produced its finest moment.
Nick Tompkins, English-born but Wales-qualified through a grandmother, made the catch and played give-and-take with flanker Josh Navidi to open the field. Tomos Williams then drew the last man and Justin Tipuric scored between the posts just 22 seconds into the new half.
It was a flash in the darkness for Wales, though.
Farrell landed his third penalty and, while he had a dead leg, Ford added another penalty from a second dominant scrum by England, even with loosehead Mako Vunipola playing for his Saracens club on the other side of the River Thames because England feared he might have COVID-19, which he doesn't.
England put the result to bed from another burst by Youngs off a ruck. Wales ran out of defenders and Tuilagi strolled in.
The conversion by Farrell, who surpassed 900 test points, was his 12th consecutive goalkick spread over the Triple Crown tests.
Wales came back and England replacement prop Genge was sin-binned on a last warning for repeated penalties. Then a minute later, Tuilagi was sent off for shoulder-charging the head of North, while he was being denied a try by Henry Slade. North hugged Tuilagi as he walked off.
Down to 13 men in the 74th minute, England held out for four minutes until Biggar scored a try and Tipuric his second in injury time, both converted by Biggar, whose start was questioned after he injured his right knee on club duty last weekend. He nailed all four of his goalkicks and tallied 14 points.