Six Nations 2019 Round 4 recap: Wales on track for Grand Slam as ruthless England dominate
By Simon Mail
Last Updated: 10/03/19 8:41pm
We look back on Round 4 of the 2019 Six Nations as Wales remain on course for a Grand Slam while champions Ireland will not give up their title easily and England were in ruthless form against Italy...
Scotland 11-18 Wales
Wales are one victory away from the Six Nations Grand Slam after clinching their 13th consecutive Test victory. It is a remarkable run and once again Warren Gatland's side found a way to win without being close to their best.
Bonus points have eluded Wales this season but none of their fans will care if they can grind out another victory against Ireland in their decider on Saturday.
The team will not win any awards for swagger and style, despite tries from Josh Adams and Jonathan Davies on Saturday, but Wales have shown a consistent ability to win at all costs and their defensive strength again came to the fore at Murrayfield.
Scotland had their opponents under intense pressure in the second half but Gregor Townsend's side again lacked the precision and incisiveness to unlock the Wales defence in another frustrating defeat.
Wales made 160 tackles during the victory and their exceptional defence, built under the leadership of coach Shaun Edwards, will be the hallmark of their success if they go on to clinch the Grand Slam.
Hamish Watson made his return from injury for Scotland as a replacement and the Edinburgh flanker made a major impact.
His ball-carrying ability caused Wales significant problems and he will surely be needed if Scotland are to pose a threat to England at Twickenham on Saturday.
England 57-14 Italy
For the second time in this year's competition at Twickenham, England ran riot as they crushed Italy in a dominant display which shared some similarities with the way in which they dispatched France in the second round of games.
The victory means England will be ready to snatch the title from Wales if their rivals slip up in Cardiff in the final round.
The standout performer for Eddie Jones' side was Joe Cokanasiga as the winger produced a superb performance for England on his first Six Nations start.
Cokanasiga may not have scored but his combination of pace and power, allied with his offloading ability, proved a huge asset for the hosts.
The Bath back's all-action display could put him in the driving seat for a starting spot at the World Cup with Jonny May nailed on to play on the other wing.
Jones selected a powerful team and centre Manu Tuilagi further underlined his attacking threat with two tries against the beleaguered Italians.
There is no doubt Italy were feeble opposition and their porous defence made it far too easy for England to score their eight tries.
But England have battered both France and Italy into submission during the tournament and Scotland could also be on the end of a heavy defeat if their opponents produce another destructive attacking performance at Twickenham.
Ireland 26-14 France
The Six Nations champions will not relinquish their title without a fight and produced their best performance in this year's competition in a one-sided victory.
Forget the scoreline, which failed to do justice to the dominance of Ireland, as France were forced to defend for almost the entire match.
Ireland certainly have not had the fluency they enjoyed last year but there were enough positives to take from their win at the Aviva Stadium.
Johnny Sexton was influential and back to the standards he would expect as he orchestrated their attacks and scored his first Test try since 2015.
The Irish secured the bonus point although their return of four tries will be a source of frustration from a game where they realistically should have managed twice as many scores.
Joe Schmidt's final home game in the Six Nations was a comfortable occasion with his side in control throughout the match until a late rally from France.
Whether his players can save the best for last and scupper Wales' Six Nations Grand Slam bid remains to be seen but their ability, under the tenure of Schmidt, to win the big games is not in doubt.