Wales shrugged off Autumn Series and early defeat

Lewis Jones plays for Cardiff Blues, but was there to see the Wales Six Nations Championship win.

Like most people, I was anticipating a really close game between Wales and England in Cardiff.

I was lucky enough to get a ticket, and from the moment the anthems were sung, I thought we’d be in for a great game.

Scoring 30 points was obviously great, but what really impressed me was Wales’ defence. To restrict England to just the three points really showed the pressure Wales exerted.

There were a couple of occasions when England had chances to score, but Wales closed them down or forced them into mistakes.

I really thought Toby Flood was through to score, but then my Blues teammate, Leigh Halfpenny put in that last-ditch tackle.

Leigh hasn’t missed a tackle at international level in something like two years which is a tribute to what a special player he has become and the hard work he puts in.

You can’t underestimate the lift it gives the team to know that your full-back is going to nail every tackle that comes his way. Plus, with Leigh, you pretty much know that any penalty from the opposition 10-metre line in will end up with three points for you.

He’s such a down to earth guy, pretty quiet but always willing to help you out if you need it. I was delighted for him when he won the RBS Six Nations Player of the Tournament.

To be honest, I could hardly believe we were in with the chance of the Championship going into that final game. After the Ireland match, I was worried that it was going to be the Autumn Series revisited for Wales – especially with France in Paris the next game up.

Their loss to Italy really made me fear a backlash against Wales. Thankfully, the guys really put in a great defensive performance aided by Phillipe Saint-Andre’s selection policy.

You have one of the world’s best centres in Wesley Fofana - and you put him on the wing. Unbelievable.

Once that game against France was won, I really thought Wales were in with a shout, especially after the follow-up victory against Italy.

I have a few mates still playing in the Under-20’s side, and their – and England’s – Six Nations were a parallel of the Senior Championship.

Like Wales Seniors, England Under-20‘s had lost to their Irish counterparts on the first weekend of the competition and came to North Wales looking to derail Wales’ attempt at the Grand Slam.

And like the match in Cardiff the following day, they not only managed to stop the Grand Slam, but score enough points to secure the Championship themselves. Strange, eh?

Some bad news for the Blues in the last few days was finding out that Alex Cuthbert suffered a hamstring tear in the first half against England and is out for five to six weeks.

It begs the question, how many tries could he have scored if he hadn’t been on one and a half legs in the second half?

Read more Living Rugby blogs.

See the last Cool Cat feature, with special mention for Leigh Halfpenny.

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