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Wales edge England in Six Nations thriller

  • Story Highlights
  • Wales beat England 23-15 in Cardiff to lead Six Nations Championship
  • Wales stay on course for successive grand slams with tense victory
  • France beat Scotland 22-13 in earlier match at Stade de France
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(CNN) -- Reigning Six Nations champions Wales stayed on course for successive grand slams with a nail biting 23-15 victory over a much-improved England at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny celebrates his crucial try in Cardiff.

Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny celebrates his crucial try in Cardiff.

England went into the match as heavy underdogs but outscored Wales two tries to one, despite being down to 14 men after two sin-binnings.

But ultimately it was this indiscipline, so evident in the unimpressive opening round win over Italy which cost England as Wales kicked six penalties through Stephen Jones and Leigh Halfpenny.

England manager Martin Johnson was convinced his team should have emerged from the heavyweight clash in Cardiff with a win.

"We let the match slip away," Johnson told BBC Sport.

"We had opportunities to win and we didn't take them."

Wales came into the match off the back of a 26-13 win in Scotland, but were without star winger Shane Williams, who has an ankle injury.

Two opening penalties from Jones and another longer range effort from Halfpenny put Wales 9-0 ahead early in the first half and a rout looked on the cards as Mike Tindall was sin-binned.

But England hit back through a superb try by Paul Sackey as he chased down Andy Goode's kick ahead following an excellent run by Rick Flutey.

Goode made a poor effort at the conversion but was on target soon afterward to cut the Wales lead to 9-8 at half time.

Wales started the second half in rampant style and Goode was yellow-carded for killing the ball close to his own line.

Jones kicked the resulting penalty and with Wales surging forward against 14 men a try was soon to follow as full-back Lee Byrne released right wing Halfpenny to cross.

The conversion was missed but Jones kicked his fourth penalty to put them 20-8 ahead and seemingly out of sight.

But England hit back with a brilliant individual try by Delon Armitage.

He took the ball from Phil Vickery just inside the halfway line and charged clear for a try converted by replacement Toby Flood.

But Jones's fifth penalty then made it 23-15 and England's hopes of one last recovery ended when Flood's penalty six minutes from time sailed wide.

Wales next face a crunch match in Paris against France, who beat Scotland 22-13 in an earlier Six Nations match at the Stade de France.

Ireland, who beat France in their opener, travel to Italy on Sunday.

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