Wales may be Triple Crown winners but they’ve got a way to go until they’re the finished article, according to captain Alun Wyn Jones.
A thrilling contest at Principality Stadium saw Wales edge a back-and-forth first half 17-14 thanks to tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams.
But the hosts pulled away with a dominant display in the second half and further scores from Kieran Hardy and Cory Hill secured a bonus-point 40-24 win to clinch the Triple Crown, which now leaves them on a collision course with France to decide the fate of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations title.
Having had such a tough 2020, the turnaround of Wayne Pivac’s side this Championship has delighted the Welsh captain while he also laid down a warning to Fabien Galthié’s men: we’re not finished yet.
“I think we probably had a tough time through the Autumn Nations Cup, we can’t shy away from that,” Jones said.
“I think we showed character in the previous two games and we’re not going to say we haven’t had a bit of luck as well. The bounce of the ball and decisions but if it wasn’t us it would be someone else.
“I still truly believe we’re not the finished article. I thought we played quite a bit with ball in hand today and we’ve played previous games and that’s got us into trouble as well so I’m pretty pleased with how it went today.”
The meeting of the Championship’s most successful sides was always going to deliver drama, but even by its lofty standards this was a game to remember.
There was individual brilliance in the form of Callum Sheedy’s ice-cold kicking and Ben Youngs’ clever second-half score.
And there was also great tension, with Biggar’s quickly-taken penalty setting up Adams’ score.
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Then Williams’ try had a hint of good fortune to it after Louis Rees-Zammit fumbled the ball in the build-up but the TMO adjudged that it had not been knocked on, both much to the frustration of England captain Owen Farrell.
But Jones insists that more important than the refereeing decisions was the belief which he and his teammates had, and which shows no sign of stopping.
Jones added: “The tough thing is if the decision [Dan Biggar’s quickly-taken penalty] had gone against us he [referee Pascal Gauzere] probably wouldn’t have listened anyway.
“Sometimes it’s those decisions that happen and we’re told to leave the refs alone as much as we can and I’ve probably been too familiar with refs at times, so it probably wasn’t my place to step in.
“[On the Louis Rees-Zammit knock-on incident] I’ve played a few games and been on the end of those decisions as well, so it’s up to the officials to make those decisions.
“I think you look at the two halves and they’re almost carbon copies in a way because we succumbed with our discipline to two pens that obviously got England back in the game and then we had those three pens late on in the second half.
“Sticking to the plan and a bit of belief and you can achieve and luckily we did here.”