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Anscombe kicks Wales to Six Nations glory

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Campbell Burnes     17 Mar 2019     Getty Images

The 27-year-old No 10 slotted all seven of his attempted goals for a 20-points haul in a man of the match display as Wales clinched another Six Nations Grand Slam with a 25-7 shutout of Ireland in Cardiff. Wales will rise to No 2 in the world with its 14th straight win.

It ensured that coach Warren Gatland’s last match at the helm of the Red Dragons was a glorious exit, but consigned his Kiwi counterpart Joe Schmidt of Ireland back to the drawing board ahead of Rugby World Cup. While the stats show there was one try apiece, the reality was Ireland’s five pointer was merely a consolation score.

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Wales’ sole try came after barely a minute when Anscombe chipped over the top of the Ireland defence. Mr Reliable Hadleigh Parkes was on hand to cross for the try. Thereafter it was Wales’ vaunted defence, drilled by Shaun Edwards, that dominated proceedings. The pack, led by courageous, injured, skipper Alun Wyn Jones and loosie Josh Navidi, rolled its sleeves up and just shut a desperately disappointing Ireland out of the game.

The tactical kicking of Wales was on point. Anscombe shifted back to fullback early and Dan Biggar guided his team around the park to good effect. It is the kind of two playmaker game that the All Blacks have used well with Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga and/or Damian McKenzie.

In the opening game of the final round of the 2019 Six Nations, France had its moments in defeating Italy 25-14 in Rome. The Azzurri gave it everything, led by No 8 Sergio Parisse, man of the match in his final Six Nations appearance. Rookie centre Marco Zanon was at the centre of two key moments. He would have scored in the first spell had the ball not cannoned into the French goalposts and lobbed away from him. With time running down, Zanon then did not protect the ball as he dived for the tryline. France wing Damian Penaud, one of the best for the visitors, knocked it clear, and then minutes later sealed the victory after some Romain Ntamack brilliance.

Parisse, and fellow departees Alessandro Zanni and Leonardo Ghiraldini, deserved more, but France made three key strikes to lift itself up to fourth on the table.
The Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham saw a remarkable 38-all draw, the upshot being that England take second place in the Six Nations and Scotland retains the Calcutta Cup.

The first stanza was all England, unleashing havoc through their backline, racing to a 31-0 lead before the gritty Stuart McInally pulled one back for the Scots. But, at 7-31, Scotland’s first win at Twickenham since 1983, still looked a forlorn hope.

However, some inspired play by fullback Sean Maitland, wing Darcy Graham and No 8 Magnus Bradbury, saw Scotland roar back into the contest, taking the lead via a solo Matt Johnson try. It will therefore be galling to the visitors, and especially head coach Gregor Townsend, that they conceded an 83rd minute converted try to George Ford.

In the final analysis, Wales deserved its Six Nations title, going 5-0, but England still played most of the best rugby, and will rue that second half in Cardiff and this morning.

Ireland and France are off the pace and will need some soul-searching, if not overhauls. Scotland need all its men to contend, while Italy is competitive but profligate with possession.

Rome: France 25 (Antoine Dupont, Yoann Huget, Damien Penaud tries; Romain Ntamack 2 con, pen, dg) Italy 14 (Tito Tebaldi try; Tommaso Allan 3 pen) HT: 10-6 France

Cardiff: Wales 25 (Hadleigh Parkes try; Gareth Anscombe con, 6 pen) Ireland 7 (Jordan Larmour try; Jack Carty con) HT: 16-0 Wales

London: England 38 (Jack Nowell, Tom Curry, Jonny May, Joe Launchbury, George Ford tries; Owen Farrell 4 con, pen, Ford con) Scotland 38 (Darcy Graham 2, Stuart McInally, Matt Johnson, Finn Russell, Magnus Bradbury tries; Russell 4 con) HT: 31-7 England

Form XV:
15 Sean Maitland (Scotland)
14 Jack Nowell (England)
13 Jonathan Davies (Wales)
12 Hadleigh Parkes (Wales)
11 Jonny May (England)
10 Gareth Anscombe (Wales)
9 Antoine Dupont (France)
8 Magnus Bradbury (Scotland)
7 Justin Tipuric (Wales)
6 Josh Navidi (Wales)
5 Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)
4 Joe Launchbury (England)
3 Tomos Francis (Wales)
2 Stuart McInally (Scotland)
1 Rob Evans (Wales)