Stuart Hogg is out of Twickenham clash (pic: SNS Group)
Scotland 11 Wales 18
Scotland back-three trio Tommy Seymour, Blair Kinghorn and Stuart Hogg have been ruled out of this Saturday’s final Guinness Six Nations Test against England at Twickenham.
Seymour and Kinghorn sustained rib and ankle injuries respectively in Saturday’s defeat to Wales, with insufficient recovery time available to feature in the team’s defence of the Calcutta Cup in London.
Hogg injured his shoulder in the national team’s second round match against Ireland and has not been able to recover in time to feature again in the 2019 championship.
Consequently, head coach Gregor Townsend has added Glasgow Warriors pair Ruaridh Jackson and uncapped Kyle Steyn to the squad, releasing fellow-Warriors Adam Ashe (back-row) and Tim Swinson (second-row) and Edinburgh pair James Johnstone (centre) and Luke Crosbie (back-row), back to their clubs.
The Scots were unable to use a sustained period of second half pressure to overturn a determined Welsh team who threatened to win by a bigger margin at Murrayfield.
Darcy Graham scored on his home international debut to spark a spirited comeback from the Scots who at the break looked destined for a heavy defeat. The result puts Wales in a strong position to capture this season’s honours.
After an encouraging early start, Scotland were forced to defend waves of Welsh attacks and could have been further behind if Gareth Anscombe had not failed to add five points with two kicks.
Jonathan Davies scored a second try to extend Wales’ lead after an Anscombe penalty followed Finn Russell’s second kick.
Russell had put Scotland into an early lead with a penalty on 11 minutes after Josh Navidi strayed offside. Josh Adams broke free on the left flank to score Wales’ first try, converted by Anscombe.
“There is partly frustration but a lot of pride, we gave a true picture of what we are capable of,” said Townsend after the game.
“The players had to handle some things that went against them, injuries early on and reshuffling the back line and players out of position, but we showed what we were made of in that second half in terms of the rugby we want to play and in our character.
“We had enough pressure in the second half to win. Strong defences will force errors but but we forced a lot of penalties out of Wales, I think five in the 22 that should normally lead to yellow cards with that pressure, but obviously we are very frustrated that that didn’t happen.
Warren Gatland, Wales’ head coach, said: “It was a comfortable first half and then you don’t get out of you own half in the second. Scotland played well and their bench was good, so you have to give them credit.
“When you look back on a Grand Slam there is always one game you think was close and that was probably today.
“We have got a dream at the moment and we will start planning for next week.
“We made a few errors and our line speed wasn’t good in areas but it got better. It has been a tough week for the boys mentally but they dug deep and showed some character. This group have forgotten how to lose and hopefully that continues next week.”
Wales: L Williams, North, J Davies, Parkes, Adams; Anscombe, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Francis, Beard, AW Jones (c), Navidi, Tipuric, Moriarty
Replacements: Dee, Smith, Lewis, Ball, Wainwright, A Davies, Biggar, Watkin
England 54 Italy 14 Twickenham
England ran in eight tries as they pulverised the visitors to keep up their title challenge. They need the Welsh to lose at home to Ireland ahead of taking on Scotland in their final match.
Manu Tuilagi led the try-scoring onslaught with Jamie George, Jonny May, and Brad Shields helping to seal the bonus point in the 32nd minute which broke Ireland’s Six Nations record by three minutes for the fastest produced.
For the winless Italians this was a 25th defeat in 25 meetings against England which stretches back four years and they were simply overcome by the powerful running of Eddie Jones’ men amid calls for a play-off for Six Nations relegation to be introduced.
England: Tries – George, May, Tuilagi (2), Shields (2), Kruis, Robson; penalties –Farrell; conversions – Farrell (4), Ford (3)
Italy: Tries – Allan, Morisi; conversions: Allan (2)
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie for George (59), Moon for Genge (59), Cole for Sinckler (56), Hughes for Launchbury (66), Wilson for Curry (56), Robson for Youngs (62), Ford for Farrell (62), Slade for Tuilagi (62).