International round-up: England heavyweights dominate
The penultimate round of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations provided plenty of drama as several Gallagher Premiership Rugby stars made the headlines for their country.
Wales ensured they remain on course for the Grand Slam after surviving a scare against Scotland before sealing an 18-11 triumph at BT Murrayfield – their 13th consecutive Test win.
That meant England had to beat Italy to keep their Championship title challenge alive and Eddie Jones’ men kept to the script as they emerged 57-14 winners at Twickenham.
The action concluded on Sunday with as Ireland defeated France in Dublin to leave themselves with an outside chance of retaining their title going into the final weekend.
Adams delivers for Wales again
Worcester Warriors star Josh Adams scored one of Wales’ two tries as they resisted a second-half fightback from Scotland to remain unbeaten in this year’s Championship.
Scotland had taken an early lead through a Finn Russell penalty but Warren Gatland’s men dominated the rest of the first half as Adams and Jonathan Davies dotted down.
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) March 9, 2019
Adams’ latest try for his country came after he surged up the wing and sold Blair Kinghorn with a shuffle as he crossed the whitewash to put Wales in front for the first time.
Russell closed the gap with a second penalty but it was soon cancelled out by Gareth Anscombe before Davies finished smartly to give Wales a 15-6 advantage.
A Darcy Graham score after the restart gave Scotland hope, however, and they began to pile pressure on Wales as they dominated possession and territory.
BT Murrayfield could sense a comeback on the cards but the visitors managed to keep their cool and seal victory to move one step closer to the Grand Slam.
England heavyweights dominate
Leicester Tigers’ centre Manu Tuilagi grabbed a brace for either side of half-time as England racked up eight tries to secure an emphatic 57-14 victory against the Azzurri.
The Red Rose were at the races from the start as Bath Rugby winger Joe Cokanasiga made the most of his Championship debut to wreak havoc on the Italian defence with his rampaging runs.
His initial run provided the platform for England’s opening try, which was scored by Saracens prop Jamie George after a driving maul, before Italy hit back through Tommaso Allan.
It was not long before England were in front, though, with Wasps full-back Elliot Daly cutting through the backline and feeding Leicester Tigers winger Jonny May to score
🗣️ “I’m very pleased, it was a good team performance and good to come away with the win.”
See what Tigers centre Manu Tuilagi had to say after starring for England in their victory over Italy at Twickenham 👇 https://t.co/8eCGACixpR
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) March 10, 2019
Tuilagi then scored his first England try in five years before setting up Wasps’ Brad Shields for the bonus-point score as the hosts surged into a 31-7 lead at the break.
Further tries from Tuilagi and Shields, which bookended scores from George Kruis and Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson, completed the victory as England bounced back in style to their defeat in Cardiff.
But while Tuilagi’s double earned him the headlines, it was the relentless display of Cokanasiga that really stole the show despite failing to get on the scoresheet himself.
Defending champions still alive
Ireland made sure they still have a slim chance of retaining their Championship title with a comfortable 26-14 bonus-point victory against France in Dublin.
Returning captain Rory Best got his side off to an ideal start with an early try before Johnny Sexton, Jack Conan and Keith Earls also crossed for the hosts.
Yoann Huget and Camille Chat closed the deficit with late consolation tries for Les Bleus, but Jacques Brunel’s men never looked like troubling the reigning champions.
Ireland will now travel to Cardiff in the final round of matches where they will look to deny Wales a Grand Slam – and give themselves an outside chance at winning back-to-back titles.
For that to happen, Ireland must defeat Wales and hope England – who have three bonus-point wins already in this Championship – come up short against Scotland at Twickenham.