But the round’s headlines belong to England who held off a remarkable Welsh comeback to claim a 25-21 victory at Twickenham. This was the same Wales team that humbled England at the recent World Cup but this was certainly not the same England team. Eddie Jones has transformed the team which brought a new found dominance for the side.
It showed against Wales as Anthony Watson’s first-half try, exceptional goal kicking from Owen Farrell and a spectacular performance from Maro Itoje stood out for England. A late comeback from Wales who brought the gap to only four with less than two minutes remaining was knocked back by England who also claimed their second Triple Crown in the last three years.
The tournament win for England, however, came from BT Murrayfield where Stuart Hogg inspired Scotland to a 29-18 victory over France giving their ‘Auld enemy’ an unassailable lead at the top. Guilhem Guirado scored from an early and Les Bleus looked well on its way only for Hogg and Duncan Taylor aided by meticulous goal kicking from Greg Laidlaw put the hosts in the driving seat.
Gael Fickou and Maxime Machenaud tried their best to revive France’s hopes but Hogg extinguished all those with a wonderful support act for Tim Visser’s try. The Scots would now go into the final round hoping for a third win in a single Championship, which if achieved would be the first time since 2006.
Double-defending Champions Ireland who have endured a miserable Championship claimed their first victory with a 58-15 margin in Dublin. The icing on this mauling is the record nine tries from the men in green. The hopes of a hat-trick were numerically put to rest in last round but Ireland looked in top gear throughout this match.
Andrew Trimble, Jack McGrath, CJ Stander and Jamie Heaslip scored tries in the opening period which gave them a massive lead. There was unrelenting pressure in the second period too with Jared Payne, Heaslip, Sean Cronin and Ian Madigan rounding up the scores. There was late consolation for the visitors but the day belonged to Ireland.
England will celebrate their title with a trip to France awaiting them in the next round. Action elsewhere will put Ireland visiting Scotland with a renewed optimism while Italy look strong favourites to end up with the wooden spoon when they head to Cardiff.
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