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WATCH: Marcus Smith narrowly keeps England in the hunt of the championship

England kept within a shout of the Six Nations title after beating Wales in a sloppy encounter in Twickenham.

Stephen Kisbey-Green
Stephen Kisbey-Green

18:55 26 Feb 2022



England kept within a shout of the Six Nations title after beating Wales in a sloppy encounter in Twickenham.

With France the only side still in with a shot of the grand slam, all of Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland were mathematically capable of winning the championship heading into the weekend, only if France were to fall short against the latter three.

However, after France's big victory over Scotland, it appears that Le Bleus are the most likely to take home the championship, even if they do not get the grand slam.

England came into the encounter with Wales as the firm favourites. The Welsh looked poor against Ireland in the opening round, and while England had lost to Scotland, they have at least put together complete performances leading into round three.

After a first half to forget for both sides, England lead 12-0 thanks to the metronomic boot of Marcus Smith. It took until the 42nd minute for one side to cross the whitewash.

A moment of madness from Welsh hooker Ryan Elias gifted England's Alex Dombrandt his first test try.

After Smith had found good field position in the Welsh half, the visitors had the throw-in to the lineout inside their own 22m.

There was an obvious miscommunication, however, as Elias threw the ball in to no jumper, and Alex Dombrandt capitalised to score his first test try.

However, the emergence of Tomos Williams in the second half encouraged the Welsh, as he directly influenced the visitors' two tries to get them within five points in the final quarter.

Wales gained some much-needed territory and possession and began to pile on some pressure on the hosts. It was Williams' pass that found Josh Adams open on the wing to score their first points of the game.

Just six minutes later, after some ingenuity from Williams got Wales back inside the English 22m area, Nick Tompkins brought the Welsh within five points of their hosts.

However, Wales' poor discipline allowed Smith to keep England ticking over. He equalled his personal highest points total of 18 points in a single test by adding two penalties.

While all seemed lost for Wayne Pivac's men, Kieran Hardy got his side back within touching distance of the win with a late try. Dan Biggar's quick conversion forced a restart to take place.

There was a moment of controversy in injury time as Courtney Lawes was penalised for a deliberate knock-on which allowed Biggar to gain excellent field position in the English half.

However, Lawes was not sin binned for the infringement, which he likely could have been in any other phase of the game, according to Lawrence Dallaglio on ITV commentary.

Ultimately, the act had little consequence as Maro Itoje affected the turnover and secure the 23-19 victory for England.

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ALEX DOMBRANDT Antoine Dupont Damian Penaud England Finn Russell France Ireland Italy Marcus Smith Paul Willemse Ryan Elias Scotland Six Nations Wales

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