Wayne Pivac’s decision to bring on Callum Sheedy in Scotland proved a masterstroke, and the fly-half was at it again as Wales clinched the Triple Crown against England.
The circumstances may have been different but for the second game running in a pressure situation, Sheedy played a vital part in a Wales victory.
Against Scotland his introduction along with Kieran Hardy was a bold tactical move. On Saturday he joined Hardy, who had been promoted to the starting line-up, five minutes into the second half in place of Dan Biggar.
Wales led 17-14 when he came on and while he was far from the only person responsible for the eventual 40-24 success, he played a key role.
What will be most pleasing both for Pivac and for Sheedy, is that he did so in a very different way to in Edinburgh, showing how he has learned from that game, as well as his ability to play to the situation.
This time around there was no chasing the game, instead it was about ensuring that Wales kept their heads as England tried to fight back.
There were clearly no nerves from Sheedy, who had a big grin on his face as he lined up a penalty kick to touch with virtually his first involvement. He made good ground on that kick, which ended up setting up the territory for Hardy’s try.
England were then able to take control for the next 15 minutes or so, with Sheedy given little opportunity to influence the game. He was beaten to a high ball by Jonny May in the build-up to Ben Youngs’ try that drew England level, but he quickly shrugged that off.
At 24-24 and with Wales back on the attack, it was off slow ball that Sheedy spotted two front-row forwards in front of him. His natural instinct is always to attack and here it paid off as he threw a little dummy and burst between Luke Cowan-Dickie and Mako Vunipola.
Realising there were England defenders covering, he tried a clever little grubber and it was only a very quick recovery from Anthony Watson that saved the try. England were forced right back onto their line however, and ended up having to concede a lineout about 35 metres out.
From there Maro Itoje gave away a penalty and Sheedy stepped up confidently. He had already kicked the conversion for Hardy’s try, and this kick from 38 metres was a testing one.
In Scotland Sheedy kicked one from three and his ability from the tee will be crucial for his international prospects. He made no mistake from the 15-metre line on the left, putting Wales back in front.
As England continued to infringe, he had two more opportunities from slightly further out on the right, around 40 metres, again on the 15-metre line. With his trademark draw, he slotted them both and pushed Wales out of sight.
ALERT IN DEFENCE
Still, England were not going to give up without a fight, and had just got back into the Wales 22 when Sheedy read Dan Robson’s mind and shot in front of a pass for Max Malins.
He picked off the ball and booted upfield for Louis Rees-Zammit to chase. Arguably he could have passed to his winger, who had a little more space than Sheedy might have realised, but the youngster instead hit the afterburners and got up to the England line. He could not regather, but Wales earned a scrum and from that Cory Hill went over to seal the try and the bonus point.
In what had been a very tight encounter, Sheedy’s introduction ended up proving pivotal as Wales secured the Triple Crown and took a big step towards the title.