Wales's 32-20 victory on the last day of the 2005 RBS Six Nations sealed a magnificent tournament for the men in red. After 27 years of hurt, underachievement, heartache and pain, Welsh dreams came true when they won the Grand Slam, Triple Crown and the RBS Six Nations Championship. Mike Ruddock's men had come close to scapling both South Africa and the All Blacks during the 2004 Lloyds TSB Autumn Series, and there was a strong belief that the team was an inch away from the start of greatness. All that was required was the killer scalp to set the ball rolling; it came in the form of England on February 5th 2005.
A game against the old enemy, and Wales were looking for their first win over England on home soil for 12 years. One man light the blue touch paper and started Wales Grand Slam dream - that man was Gavin Henson. Henson struck a wonderful 45-metre penalty to complete a well deserved victory in the dying minutes of a match that Wales had dominated but not capitalised upon. After an early Shane Williams converted try and numerous missed try and penalty opportunities, England had clawed their way into a two point lead over Wales; England themselves spurning scoring opportunities. With just minutes on the clock, Henson stepped up from long range and blasted home a penalty awarded against England Captain Jason Robinson for holding on. Once Wales were back in front, the outcome was never in doubt with Shane Williams nearly scoring a second with the last touch of the game; the final score Wales 11 England 9.
With one down and a long way to go, a tricky tip to the Italian capital Rome was on the horizon, with the memories of 2003 still fresh in Welsh memories. Luciano Orquera charged down an attempted Henson clearance to scare the Dragons, but Wales were just too good for the Azzurri who could only watch as the men in red cut them apart with some fantastic rugby.
Shane Williams was at his dancing best, teasing the Italian defence with run after run. Brent Cockbain managed a debut try, Martyn Williams scored a clever try against the posts and Robert Sidoli bagged a try against the land of his father. Six tries were score and the second win registered 8-38 - Wales had started to make themselves known.
With confidence flowing Wales headed to Paris and the Stade de France which had been somewhat of a lucky away ground over the previous few seasons. Ruddock's men looked down and out after the first half as the home side produced the sort of running rugby that the French public so crave. 15-6 down and on the ropes, it was time for the heroics to begin.
The men in red stunned Les Bleus with two quick fire tries from Martyn Williams. Wales were on the comeback and had no intention of losing. A backs-to-the-wall win was influenced by the man France had paid to bring to their shores - Stephen Jones. The other French import Gareth Thomas broke his thumb and didn't feature in the rest of the competition. Wales had beaten France 18-24 and with three victories out of three, talk of a Grand Slam dream began.
Murrayfield was always a hard game for Wales, but with the displays of recent weeks, for the first time a spirited Welsh crowd travelled North brimming full of confidence. Wales had lit the tournament up with some wonderful running rugby, but the best was yet to come as they easily beat Scotland in a devastating first half. Ryan Jones opened the scoring from a move he started himself in Wales's own half, before Scotland knew it they were 38-3 down as Wales ran riot. The men in red had scored three tries in the opening 15 minutes. The game was dead and despite a brave comeback to 22-46, Wales were already turning their attentions to the next game - Ireland at home.
And so it came to a Grand Slam match against Ireland, but not a Grand Slam decider. Ireland's defeat to France meant Wales were the only side who could still win the Grand Slam. Something which they hadn't achieved since 1978. The scene was set, the Millennium Stadium packed and the weight of a nation hung on the shoulders of the Welsh Rugby team. Wales had not beaten Ireland in Cardiff since 1983. March 19, 2005 was a date which saw all the old memories fade into insignificance.
First came a Gethin Jenkins charge down score then another wonder-try as the Welsh backs once again showed off their pace, style and brilliance. Ireland attempted to get back into it, but the boots of Henson and Stephen Jones meant the men in green were never going to spoil the party. Wales had beaten all that was put in front of them.
Five games, five wins. Wales had won the Grand Slam, and Martyn Williams, who had been an injury doubt at the start of the tournament was pronounced man of the tournament.
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