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Six defining moments from England’s Guinness Six Nations campaign

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Six defining moments from England’s Guinness Six Nations campaign

Six defining moments from England’s Guinness Six Nations campaign

274 days after the 2020 Guinness Six Nations started, the champions have been crowned.

A dramatic Super Saturday finale lived up to its billing as England emerged triumphant from an intense three-way battle for the Championship title with Ireland and France.

Eddie Jones’ men defeated Italy with a bonus point in Rome before facing a tense wait to see who prevailed in the day’s final fixture as Les Bleus welcomed Andy Farrell’s side.

France’s 35-27 victory ended Ireland’s title ambitions but it was not enough to usurp the Red Rose at the summit of the table, handing England their first Championship win since 2017.

It completed a remarkable turnaround from England, who lost their opening game of the Guinness Six Nations to Les Bleus in Paris before winning four in a row to clinch the crown.

And with the Championship done and dusted for another year, we have had a look back at the key moments from England’s campaign which contributed to their title success.

LATE MAY DOUBLE IN PARIS

England began the 2020 Guinness Six Nations as favourites after reaching the Rugby World Cup final just a few months earlier before missing out on the title to South Africa.

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But they found themselves on the back foot against Fabien Galthie’s exciting and youthful Les Bleus outfit, who raced into a deserved 17-point lead at the half-time interval.

Tries from Vincent Rattez and captain Charles Ollivon, plus a Romain Ntamack penalty, left the visitors rattled before the France skipper dived over again after the restart.

However, Jonny May scored a brilliant eight-minute brace as the Red Rose rallied and two Owen Farrell conversions plus a late penalty saw the visitors snatch a losing bonus point.

That ultimately proved decisive as England took the title on points difference from France.

DECISIVE GENGE INTERVENTION

A bumpy start to the campaign did not get much easier for England at BT Murrayfield.

Looking to get back to winning ways and clinch the Calcutta Cup for the first time in three years, the visitors were pushed to their limits by Scotland in difficult Edinburgh conditions.

Farrell struck a penalty to give England a narrow 3-0 lead at the break before Adam Hastings replied soon after the restart to level the scores in the driving rain.

That was how the score remained until Ellis Genge crashed over the whitewash for the game’s only try with 11 minutes left on the clock after coming off the bench.

It was the prop’s first try for his country and while Farrell and Hastings traded further penalties, Genge’s intervention proved enough to secure a 13-6 victory for England.

FIRST-HALF BLITZ AGAINST IRELAND

This was more like the England that stormed to the World Cup final in Japan.

Welcoming unbeaten Ireland to Twickenham, the Red Rose ended the men in green’s Grand Slam hopes with a bruising 80-minute performance as they prevailed 24-12.

The hosts’ line speed and ruthless defence ensured Ireland never had a chance to catch their breath as George Ford and Elliot Daly capitalised on errors to put England 17-0 up.

It was a lead from which Ireland never recovered and while Robbie Henshaw pulled one back after the restart, Luke Cowan-Dickie’s try made sure of the result for England.

Andrew Porter also crossed late on for another Ireland consolation but it was not enough to take the gloss off a fine display from Jones’ men, who kept their title bid alive and well.

ENGLAND SURVIVE WALES SCARE

The most brilliant and bonkers game at Twickenham ended in another England win – but only just.

As they had done against Ireland, England charged out of the blocks against Wales and took an early lead when Youngs and Watson combined for the latter to score after three minutes.

Daly also crossed in the first half and Farrell added ten points with his boot to ensure the hosts took a commanding 20-9 lead at the break.

Justin Tipuric responded with a superb solo try after the restart but when Manu Tuilagi dotted down England appeared to re-establish control – until the centre saw red for a no-arms tackle.

With Genge also sin-binned, England were forced to play the final moments with 13 men but they held out to seal a dramatic 33-30 success despite Tipuric and Dan Biggar scoring late tries.

YOUNGS BRACE PROVES KEY

Ben Youngs celebrated becoming only England’s second centurion against Italy.

And the scrum-half marked the occasion in style by providing not one, but two moments of individual class to propel his country to victory on his 100th appearance.

The Leicester Tigers man ensured he was on the shoulder of Farrell when the fly-half broke through the Italian defence to cross the whitewash inside the opening five minutes.

He then provided the sucker punch to the pumped up Azzurri side soon after the restart, sniping brilliantly to cut through the blue wall and put England back in control.

Without his influence, the title may have ended up in France or Ireland.

CURRY BREAKS ITALY RESISTANCE

England were well aware that only a try-bonus point victory against Italy would be enough for them to take the Guinness Six Nations crown ahead of Ireland and France.

But the hosts proved stubborn opposition at the Stadio Olimpico, frustrating the England attack repeatedly as they searched for the four tries they required to stand a chance.

When Youngs went over for his second try and Jamie George marked his 50th cap with a score of his own with half an hour still to play, the bonus-point seemed inevitable.

Italy continued to provide resistance, though, until Tom Curry rose to the occasion.

Stepping in for Youngs at the breakdown, Curry picked up the ball from the base of the ruck and ran around the Italian defence down the blindside to score and seal the vital bonus-point.