Wales verdict: Another sickening George North head blow huge concern but Tipuric is turning into the Welsh leader – The Sun

Wales verdict: Another sickening George North head blow huge concern but Tipuric is turning into the Welsh leader – The Sun


GEORGE NORTH was laid out by a reckless flying tackle to the head from Manu Tuilagi — but at least the centre was sent off.

It was a crazy act by the burly England centre, as his team had already wrapped up victory over their old rivals.

Two tries in the dying minutes meant the scoreline flattered Wayne Pivac’s side.

But the sending off was fully deserved, and the fact that the unfortunate victim was North – concussed for the sixth time against France two weeks earlier – made the incident even more stomach-churning.

At least North was able to finish the match this time, taking the brunt of the impact on his shoulder.

The home team actually finished with 13 men, as replacement prop Ellis Genge had been sin-binned with England committing a string of late infringements to try to halt a late Wales onslaught.

That allowed Wales to salvage a measure of respectability with scores from Dan Biggar and Justin Tipuric.

Tipuric had earlier scored the try of the tournament, although it was scant consolation as his team took a pounding from the heavyweight England pack.

The Wales flanker rounded off an outrageous counter-attack straight from the kick off at the start of the second half, touching down for a try that will be replayed countless times down the years.

The problem was England dominated most of what went before and after that score – until the frantic finales – conjuring up three tries of their own from Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Tuilagi.

Skipper Owen Farrell chipped in with 16 points – with George Ford also supplying a conversion – but even though all of England’s points came from their backs, and it was their monster pack who deserved the credit for this win.

They battered the Welsh scrum and simply had too much power for a Welsh team that fought bravely, but were clearly outgunned.

England were clearly keen to test out Biggar’s fitness as quickly as possible, after he limped off just twenty minutes into Northampton’s match against Saracens a week earlier.

The Wales fly half was wearing a big strapping around his right knee, and he was clattered by Tuilagi – fairly on this occasion – and Tom Curry as he fielded a kick just 45 seconds after the kick off.

England then landed a much more telling early blow as a George North fumble in midfield allowed Maro Itoje to drive the home team to within striking distance of the Welsh line.

The rolling maul looked the obvious option as England gathered in the lineout, but instead they produced a clever inside switch that allowed wing Anthony Watson to sidestep past the despairing Tomos Williams for a fourth minute try.

Farrell added the extras and the impression that Biggar was far from one hundred per cent was confirmed when Halfpenny was handed the kicking duties after Farrell elbowed North in the face close to the Red Rose line.

It was a petulant act rather than nasty one – and England could just as easily have been penalised for Joe Marler’s bizarre decision to thrust his arm into Alun Wun Jones groin, giving the Welsh skipper’s ‘man parts’ a painful squeeze.

Halfpenny landed the easy shot at goal, and then exchanged penalties with Farrell as the game developed into a contest where neither side seemed prepared to keep the ball in hand.

England had announced their attention to target the Welsh scrum, and they destroyed the opposition pack to set up their second try.

That allowed Farrell to kick them into the red zone again and some slick handling put Elliot Daly over in the corner – he had moved from full back to the wing when Jonny May failed a concussion test after colliding with Halfpenny.

Farrell’s conversion and his third penalty stretch the lead to 20-6, but Wales got an unexpected chance to cut the arrears when England coughed up possession in first half stoppage time, and were then penalised for offside.

Biggar – Wales first choice kicker in their three previous Six Nations outings – took on the 45 metre effort, and his kick just had the legs to make it over the crossbar.

Apart from one Nick Tompkins break and a cross kick from Biggar that almost sent Tipuric clear, Wales had created virtually nothing.

But they put that right in sensational style by scoring a fabulous try within 24 seconds of the restart.

Biggar decided to run the kick off back at England and danced past two players before handing on to Josh Navidi.

Tompkins and Tomos Williams injected more pace into the counter-attack, and the outstanding Tipuric was on hand to collect the scrum half’s pass and run the remaining forty meters to the sticks.

Suddenly Wales were just four points adrift.

But England were clearly winning the forward battle and they won a couple of crucial penalties – the second for another demolition job at the scrum.

Ben Youngs then made a rare break to expose the Welsh defence, and Ford’s well-timed pas sent Tuilagi over wide out.

That was the best of Tuilagi – the worst left a very sour taste in the mouth.


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