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Published: 18:12 | 12/3/16

England beat Wales at Twickenham

Triple Crown secured despite late Welsh comeback

England resisted a late comeback to seal another Triple Crown triumph as they edged past Wales by 25-21 in a thrilling RBS Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

The game looked done and dusted as the home side led 25-7 five minutes from the end courtesy of an Anthony Watson try and 20 points from the boot of the flawless Owen Farrell before late scores from George North and Toby Faletau threw the outcome into doubt and Eddie Jones' side were left to hang on for victory in the end.

The home side began the game at a very high tempo and came close to a try within two minutes of the start as they took advantage of a North fumble close to his own line. However, Ben Youngs was adjudged to have knocked on in attempting to ground the ball.

They continued to take the game to the visitors and were deservedly ahead on eight minutes courtesy of an owen Farrell penalty after Wales were pinged for hands in the ruck.

England were unlucky not to be awarded a try on 15 minutes when prop Dan Cole crashed over under the posts, but TV replays were inconclusive as to the grounding and the try was disallowed, although they gleaned some consolation when Farrell slotted a second penalty as pressure on the Welsh scrum yielded some reward.

Farrell was on target again with his third penalty of the day on 21 minutes, this one from just outside the 22 after Dan Lydiate was penalised for not releasing, as England remained in control.

They had the try their play deserved just after the half hour as Watson crossed in the corner following a superb break from second row Maro Itoje which saw him burst through two tackles to create space down the left.

Farrell was unerring in his accuracy once again as he landed the conversion to make it 16-0.

Wales struggled to find any rhythm and were unable to open their account before the break as England returned to the dressing room with a commanding lead.

Farrell extended the home side's advantage shortly after the restart and it appeared that there was no way back for Wales.

However, to their credit, they refused to lie down and laid siege to the English line for several minutes before England finally secured a turnover and cleared to safety.

But Warren Gatland's men were handed a lifeline on 53 minutes as out-half Dan Biggar charged down counterpart George Ford's attempted clearance to touch down under the posts.

He added the extras himself and suddenly there was a glimmer of light for the visitors at 19-7.

North thought he had reduced the arrears further when he crossed in the corner shortly afterwards, but his effort was ruled out for an earlier knock-on.

But England appeared to have weathered the storm as Farrell calmed their nerves with his fifth and sixth penalties of the game to make it 25-7 with 12 minutes remaining.

But two tries in two minutes suddenly put the outcome in doubt.

After Coles was sin-binned for preventing the ball from coming back in the ruck, Liam Williams and Jonathan Davies combined well to release North to score under the posts.

Substitute Rhys Priestland, on for Biggar, converted and did likewise two minutes later after Faletau crashed over for a third Welsh try.

England were left to hang on for victory in a frenetic finish, but their dominance for much of the game meant the result was probably a fair one in the end with Gatland left to reflect perhaps on why it took his side so long to start playing.

By: Kieran O'Daly

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