Six Nations: England sets up grand slam bid with Wales revenge

England won its second triple crown in three years and set up a grand slam shot in Paris next week.

Story highlights

  • England beat Wales 25-21 at Twickenham
  • Wales fight back from 25-7 down
  • England on course for first grand slam since 2003
  • Wraps up Six Nations title as France lose

(CNN)As redemptions go it counts, but it was mighty close at the end.

England avenged its World Cup loss to Wales with a nerve-jangling 25-21 victory at Twickenham to keep alive hopes of the Six Nations grand slam Saturday.
    Defeat for France Sunday, beaten 29-18 by three-try Scotland at Murrayfield, later handed England the title with a game remaining, the first since 2011.
    In the build-up to a crunch match, England coach Eddie Jones had asked his players to rediscover their swagger.
    He urged them to remind "little" Wales which nation was the big brother in the relationship. And he vowed the World Cup debacle hadn't even entered their thinking. "This group of players trains differently, thinks differently," he said.
    For 60-odd minutes at Twickenham his players responded with an assured performance -- including an Anthony Watson try and six penalties overall from Owen Farrell -- to land a second triple crown for beating the three other home nations in three years.
    England's Owen Farrell kicked six penalties and a conversion against Wales.

    'Lucky'

    For the final quarter, Wales threatened to silence English rugby's headquarters with tries from George North and Taulupe Faletau in a stirring fightback from 25-7 down.
    In the end, Jones and England got away with it.
    "We were lucky we got enough [points] in the first 60 minutes," Jones told ITV. "It was a funny performance by us. At times we were immaculate -- really good, really sharp, really intense, but we dropped off a little bit at the end."
    Jones was the mastermind behind Japan's remarkable World Cup victory over South Africa last year, and he was brought in to revive England after it crashed out of the tournament following defeats by Wales and Australia in the pool stages.
    England won its last Six Nations title under Martin Johnson in 2011 -- and last grand slam under Clive Woodward in 2003 -- a feat than can now be matched with victory against the French in Paris on March 19.
    The early evidence would suggest Australia's Jones is getting a better tune out of the side than his predecessor Stuart Lancaster.
    Watson scored the opener for a rampant England in the first half at Twickenham.
    Jones oversaw Six Nations victories against Scotland, Italy and defending champion Ireland, but Wales was likely to provide the litmus test for his tenure.
    "To be leading Wales 25-7 less than four months after the World Cup is pretty good," added Jones, whose Australia side lost the 2003 World Cup final to Woodward's England.
    "We can't wait to get to Paris next week and do the business. The grand slam is there for us to take."
    England dominated from the start and the 16-0 scoreline at halftime slightly underplayed its superiority.
    The home side broke the Welsh line on numerous occasions and thought it had scored the game's opening try after two minutes when Ben Youngs went over, only for the television official to rule he had knocked the ball forward.
    Prop Dan Cole also crossed the Welsh white wash inside the first quarter, but his effort was adjudged to have been held up by the arm of Gareth Davies.
    England, leading 9-0 after three Farrell penalties, was rewarded for its endeavor when wing Watson scored in the left corner after a slick move from an impressive break by lock Maro Itoje.
    Dan Biggar of Wales charged down George Ford's kick to score under the posts.
    Farrell extended the lead to 19-0 shortly after the break, but Wales began to enjoy some possession and went close down the right before England eventually cleared its lines.
    But from a line-out on the left, fly-half George Ford tried to hoist a high kick up the field, only for opposite number Dan Biggar to charge the ball down and scamper over for a try.
    Wales sensed an opportunity as England lost its bounce.
    Jones readjusted and introduced center Manu Tuilagi for the first time since June 2014 because of injury -- to the obvious delight of the crowd.
    Two quick Farrell penalties settled the home side and pushed the lead to 25-7, before England lost Cole to the sin-bin.
    Wales wing George North sparked his side's revival at Twickeham.

    'What could have been'

    And then Wales began to play.
    First, giant winger North broke down the left and raced in under the posts before Faletau crashed over for a third Welsh try.
    Biggar and his replacement Rhys Priestland added the conversions and Wales were on the brink of a famous comeback.
    This time, however, England came out on top.
    "I'm very disappointed with the first half," said Wales' Kiwi coach Warren Gatland.
    "I said to them at half time that we needed some energy. I told the players they needed to come up with answers themselves. In the second half we got some impetus and finished strongly and we wonder what could have been."
    In Saturday's other fixture, Ireland trounced bottom-of-the-table Italy 58-15 at Dublin's Aviva Stadium moving the reigning Six Nations champions up to fourth in the table with three points from their four games.
    England captain Dylan Hartley received the trophy from Prince Harry.