Saturday, March 17, 2007

Welsh Pride Restored

Six Nations Game 15 - Wales vs England (27-18)

England were caught napping in the first three minutes, when Toby Flood's clearance kick was charged down and James Hook did the honours with hand and boot to score seven points for Wales.

Wales nearly got another before Shane Williams [left] was hauled down and England won a penalty which was quickly taken and cleared. With just eight minutes gone, Joe Worsley went off concussed, to be replaced by Magnus Lund. Then Hook had a chance at goal from just under half way and made it into double figures, 10-0.

Then Wales had another strong attack, Chris Horsman just going over the line under a pile of Welsh bodies. Hook's wide conversion just bounced off the posts, to make the score 15-0.

England had the chance at an attacking lineout after Wales gave away a penalty. Wales knocked on to give England the scrum. They spun it out wide, and got within 2m but were getting very slow ball.

With over 30 minutes on the clock, James Hook went for a drop goal but it went wide. Possession seemed to be all Wales' way. But then England managed to make a break, skipper Mike Catt was chasing his chip ahead to the line. It bounced awkwardly, missing the Welsh defence, and Harry Ellis [right] was there to clear up. Toby Flood made the conversion and England were back in the game at 15-7. Shortly after, Flood struck a drop goal to claw back another three points, taking them to 15-10.

A few minutes later, Hook added another three points for an England infringement, taking it to 18-10. But immediately after, Ellis made a great break, with Jason Robinson in support, diving over in the corner. It was a Billy Whizz trademark try. Flood didn't make the conversion, but the score was back at 18-15 at the break.

Just after the second half started, Mike Catt went off to be replaced by Shane Geraghty. David Strettle made a break and were brought up just short, then Wales gave away a penalty. Flood's kick levelled the score at 18-all.

Wales were caught crossing in the England half, and Flood's huge kick down the field put them back into Welsh territory. The lineout was just about won, Ellis shipped it out to the backs but a high kick was caught by Wales, who promptly passed it out into touch. A few minutes later, they did the same thing on the other side of the pitch. England's lineout went long and was nicked, but then Shane Williams knocked on to give England a scrum.

Wales won their own scrum in the England 22, and they were making ground, but Kevin Morgan threw a wayward pass and Mark Jones [left] was unable to take it before it went into touch.

England were back in possession and in the Welsh half when they were caught holding on. At the Welsh lineout, England infringed and James Hook took a chance at goal from 39m out. It hit the right post and was collected by George Chuter. Then England got a scrum on half way but Wales turned over possession in the loose.

With about 20 minutes to go, Hook had another chance at goal and drew ahead at 21-18. England won some good ball fom the restart but an interception put Wales back in the England 22 with a throwin. Then they were up at 5m with a lineout throw. Gough took the ball cleanly, and England were on the defensive. The forwards were picking and driving but were still 2m from the line when Hook took another drop goal, to make it 24-18.

Hook then made a great break but couldn't manage to pass without knocking on. Meanwhile Dwayne Peel was replaced by Mike Philips [right]. England got a bit more possession, but it seemed to be coming out slowly, when Shaun Perry knocked on. Wales then had another go at goal, pulling away to make it 27-18 with eight minutes to go.

No more points were added, despite England attempting to make ground in the dying minutes. At last, Wales had a win to avoid the Wooden Spoon. Hook's 22 points made him Man of the Match.

Or, read my ten word review.

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