The best matches of the 2021 Six Nations
Wales were crowned Guinness Six Nations champions for the second time in three years but were denied another Grand Slam following a classic encounter against runners-up France.
Here, the PA news agency looks back at the standout matches of the tournament.
February 6: England 6 Scotland 11
Scotland celebrated the 150th anniversary of the oldest rivalry in rugby by stunning England to claim their first Twickenham victory since 1983.
The 38-year wait for success at the home of the reigning champions finally came to an end as Finn Russell inspired the underdogs to a magnificent win.
Russell directed play masterfully, Cameron Redpath enjoyed an influential debut and Stuart Hogg was world class at full-back.
A solitary try from Duhan Van Der Merwe was scant reward for the Scots’ domination given they put England into a straitjacket but sufficient for Gregor Townsend’s men to deservedly reclaim the Calcutta Cup.
February 13: Scotland 24 Wales 25
Scotland came crashing back down to earth following their Twickenham triumph after blowing a 14-advantage during a pulsating Murrayfield encounter.
Impressive Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit settled proceedings with a delightful solo try, impishly chipping the ball over Hogg’s head before racing clear to touch down his second of a fruitful evening.
Zander Fagerson’s costly red card came during a frantic 17 minutes either side of half-time in which the hosts also had a score disallowed and conceded tries to Rees-Zammit, Liam Williams and Wyn Jones.
Scotland skipper Hogg, who along with Darcy Graham crossed in the opening period to help put Gregor Townsend’s men 17-3 in front, restored the lead with his second of the game before being left powerless to prevent the sensational match-winning moment.
February 27: Wales 40 England 24
While not a conventional classic, Wales claimed the Triple Crown by reducing England’s title hopes to ruins in a contest shrouded in controversy.
Referee Pascal Gauzere later admitted to making mistakes in permitting the hosts’ opening two tries in Cardiff.
Having told England captain Owen Farrell to speak to his team regarding their discipline, the French official quickly restarted play, allowing Josh Adams to punish the unsuspecting visitors , before missing an apparent Rees-Zammit knock-on in the build up to Liam Williams’ score.
Frustrated England boss Eddie Jones, who refused to condemn Gauzere, saw his side recover to level at 24-24, before the boot of Callum Sheedy and a late Cory Hill try gave Wales their highest Test score against their fierce rivals.
March 13: England 23 France 20
Maro Itoje crashed over for a late try as defending champions England seized a dramatic victory to rescue their Championship from disaster.
Les Blues led 20-16 until the 76th minute when Itoje bulldozed over and Owen Farrell rifled the conversion to edge the tournament favourites.
A fortnight after conceding the title in Wales, it was England’s best performance of the tournament by a distance, full of endeavour and flashes of clinical execution.
Some of France’s play was also irresistible, especially for tries from Antoine Dupont and Damian Penaud, but they could not hold on in Le Crunch as scores from man-of-the-match Anthony Watson and Itoje, plus 13 points from the boot of captain Farrell, helped England restore some pride.
March 20: France 32 Wales 30
France inflicted Grand Slam heartbreak on Wales to keep alive their own title hopes at the end of a breathless encounter in Paris.
The Welsh looked certain to seal a shock tournament clean sweep after establishing a 10-point lead and seeing Fabien Galthie’s hosts reduced to 14 men following Paul Willemse’s dismissal just 13 minutes from time.
But Wayne Pivac’s men capitulated in the closing stages at Stade de France and paid a hefty price for their indiscipline and time-wasting tactics.
After Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams were sin-binned in quick succession, a converted Charles Ollivon score put France back in contention, before Brice Dulin finished a flowing move two minutes into added time to clinch an epic bonus-point win and ensure the title would be decided during Les Bleus’ rearranged clash with Scotland.
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