It may have been Gavin Henson's last gasp penalty that got Wales's noses back in front, but the fact the red defensive line remained unbroken for the first time in twenty-six Championship matches was even more critical. You had to go back five years and twenty-four Championship matches to find the last time an English side failed to score a try in an Six Nations encounter and they even won that game against the French in Paris. It was England's second game in the newly formed Lloyds TSB Six Nations Championship at Stade de France in 2000 when five Jonny Wilkinson penalties beat three from the boot of Richard Dourthe to give the visitors a 15-9 triumph.
Since Italy were introduced to the world's greatest annual rugby tournament in 2000, England had scored 107 tries in their 25 matches up to last weekend at an average of four tries per game. With a try count of 21-5 over Wales in the five previous RBS Six Nations games before last weekend and 8-2 in two visits to the Millennium Stadium, their average try return against the Welsh had also been four per game.
Contrast that to Wales's rather meagre 53 tries in their 25 Championship outings since 2000, at an average of two tries per game, and you can see how important it was that the Welsh defence stood firm. While tries had proved hard to come by in the five previous seasons, they had flowed quite freely through the Welsh defence. Wales had conceded 71 tries in the Six Nations, 21 to England, 18 to Ireland, 13 to France, 11 to Scotland and 8 to Italy, before this season at an average of 2.8 per game.
Those 71 tries represented the second highest total conceded in the first five championships, with only the Italians coming off worse with 109 tries. England had conceded only 25, France 38, Ireland 59 and Scotland 68.
It was the first time since 1993 that England had failed to score a try against Wales and the first time in 48 Five and Six Nations championship fixtures that Wales had held out the opposition for the full 80 minutes. The last time was in 1994. The obvious goal now is to maintain that form and, if there is another win in Italy this weekend, it would be the first time since 1994 that Wales had won their opening two fixtures.
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