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Gatland hails history-makers Wales

Date

Julian Guyer

Wales players celebrate victory with the Triple Crown. Click for more photos

Wales claim Triple Crown

Wales claim the Triple Crown after downing England at Twickenham in a thriller. Photo: Getty Images

LONDON: Wales coach Warren Gatland praised a "potentially outstanding" side after seeing the World Cup semi-finalists come from behind to beat England 19-12 on Saturday and win the Triple Crown.

MATCH REPORT

There were fewer than five minutes left on the clock when, with the score at 12-12, following four penalties apiece from England's Owen Farrell and Wales's Leigh Halfpenny, the Welsh scored the only try of the match.

Replacement back Scott Williams stripped the ball from Courtney Lawes and then regathered his own kick downfield.

But England, who arguably delivered their best performance of Stuart Lancaster's reign before losing for the first time in three matches under the interim coach, came again.

They almost had a try with the last move of an absorbing match when wing David Strettle went in at he corner while being challenged by Wales centre Jonathan Davies.

But after several minutes of nailbiting analysis, video referee Iain Ramage ruled 'no try' to the despair of the bulk of a Twickenham crowd of more than 81,000, although had the score been awarded England would still have needed a successful conversion to draw the game.

Referee Steve Walsh blew for time and Wales had won their first Triple Crown - when one of the four Home Unions beats all the others in a single Six Nations season - at Twickenham.

"I'm very proud," said Gatland. "This group of players have made a piece of history with the Triple Crown at Twickenham."

But the New Zealander had no problems in conceding his side had been pushed all the way by a youthful England team.

"England were very good with their blitz defence and their tackles.

"They didn't make it easy for us, but we scrummaged well and in the end I think we had just a little more firepower."

Victory was only Wales's second win at Twickenham since 1988, the last coming four years ago when Gatland's first game in charge yielded a 26-19 win that set up a Grand Slam.

Another Six Nations clean sweep is in Wales's sights as they look ahead to concluding matches at home to Italy and France -- the team that edged them out in a dramatic World Cup semi-final.

"This is a young group with a little bit of experience who potentially could be outstanding," said Gatland of his talented line-up.

"We have a bit of depth throughout the side and it is a team to get excited about. If we get a good win against Italy we can prepare with confidence for the game against France."

Wales had been 12-6 behind at one stage and were also a man down for 10 minutes early in the second half when Priestland was yellow-carded.

But, with captain Sam Warburton in outstanding form as exemplified by his try-saving tackle on Manu Tuilagi, Wales battled back to win without being at their best.

"We didn't play well at all today," man-of-the-match Warburton said.

"We knew it was going to be our toughest game so far, knew England are a quality outfit and that was one hell of a Test match," the openside flanker added.

"To get the Triple Crown is unbelievable. I'm not going to jinx myself, I'm not going to say it (Grand Slam)."

Lancaster, bidding to become the permanent successor to Martin Johnson in the face of competition from former South Africa and Italy supremo Nick Mallett, was proud of his inexperienced side.

"Wales are a team who have been together a long, long time and we are a team that has been together for three weeks. We should take great credit from that."

AFP

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Fri, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
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Fri, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
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