After the disappointment of Johnny Wilkinson’s boots aiding England to beat Wales in the first encounter at Twickenham last week winning 23-19 it was with great anticipation, expectation and optimism that I was so looking forward to the return match at the Millennium Stadium.
For once it wasnt a mad rush to get into the stadium and I got to my seat a good 30 minutes before kick off! (I usually rack up just after the anthems!) So it was time to see both teams on the pitch warming up and gearing up for a tough game ahead. There was the usually singing of Deliah and Cwm Rhondda by a male voice choir but it didn’t seem to get the crowd going that much – I wonder whether everyone was really nervous going into this match?
The teams retreated back to the dressing room then came back out five minutes later for a last minute warm-up before retreating again and then the third time running out onto the pitch to a raptuous applause and deafening sounds from a 73,300 packed Millennium Stadium.
Flames roared into the top of the arena and was so hot we could actually feel the intense heat radiating from them! Both teams lined up ready for the anthems and in our part of the stadium there was a really passionate, rousing rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.(Spine tingingly good!)
I had a really good feeling about this game and wasnt disappointed as Rhys Preistland was the first to get points on the scoreboard for Wales with a penalty in the first minute. But it wasn’t long before England’s Toby Flood drew level with another penalty. It was going to be one of those games – well maybe one of those halves at least!
Minutes later and Preistland and Flood are repeating the penalty kicks with the half-time score at 6-6. In this first half it looked like England had the lion’s share of the possession and seemed to be continually in the Welsh half with sustained pressure on the defense which actually held up and didn’t allow them to score! (Well done lads!)
Gavin Henson was playing from the start and did have a few decent touches of the ball until he alledgelly broke his wrist about 30 minutes in. I did throw the line out there that im sure there’s a joke in there with Gavin Henson being The Batchelor and having a broken wrist….. But I was a little surprised about how much hatred now surrounds Henson. When the team line-ups were announced on the big screens EVERYONE got cheers, some bigger than others, but everyone got a cheer from their own supporters. The only player who didn’t get a cheer was Henson who actually united the opposing supporters whom all boo’ed extremely loudly in unison when his name was announced and his picture appeared on the big screen!
In the interval it was time to get Nathan Cleverley out to show off his WBO light heavyweight world championship belt.
It was also time to head to the bar and get some well deserved refreshments only to be told that they had run out of beer and lager. All that was left was Magners cider – so cider it was then.
I can’t believe that the caterers had totally misjudged how much a Wales v England crowd would drink – there were so many disappointed faces at the bar!(Think of all that revenue the WRU missed out on aswell!)
The second half kicked off and England actually went ahead for the first time in the game with another penalty kick from Flood. Around the hour mark James Hook marches through a couple of non-existent tackles and gets the ball down next to the posts. Hook also gets it through the posts aswell!
We were sat not too far away from the official WRU position and could clearly see Warran Gatland, Rob Howley and Robin McBryde! Im sure they were keeping an eye on the game aswell as the deteriorating state of the pitch. The grass seemed to be churning up quite easily in this instance and whilst game was still in play groundsmen were frantically running on and trying to patch it up!
Hook also gets another 3 points from another penalty and then finishes things off with a classy drop-goal from just inside the England half.
Final Score Wales 19 – England 9
So a celebratory lap of honour from Wales for beating the ol’ enemy on home soil and being the only team to get a try on the day. I think Wales deserved the win just from the strong defensive first half and hopefully will give them a bit more confidence going into the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand later in 2011.