Six key moments that made a Grand Slam

Every Grand Slam has crucial moments along the way, those decisive turning points that make the difference between glory and despair.

Every Grand Slam has crucial moments along the way, those decisive turning points that make the difference between glory and despair.

After an opening win in Paris in Round One, Warren Gatland likened Wales’ success to Ireland’s at the same stadium a year previous.

In 2018, it was the Jonathan Sexton drop goal that set Ireland on their way to a Grand Slam and 12 months on, Wales’ monumental second-half comeback did the same.

As the dust settles in Cardiff after that magnificent 25-7 success over Ireland, it is time to reflect on the six decisive moments that put Wales on the path for the Slam.

It seems so long ago now but at half-time in Paris on the opening Friday of the Championship, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone predicting a Welsh Grand Slam.

Les Bleus were on fire, 16-0 to the good, and seemingly on their way to a morale-boosting victory. At that point, Wales had won nine straight matches, and the confidence was evident as they turned things around.

Still, with a three-score deficit, clearly Wales needed to score first and fast. They did so, with winger Josh Adams making the decisive contribution. Spotting a slight dog leg in the French defence, he burst past the tackle of Paul Willemse, played the two-on-one perfectly and put Tomos Williams in for the try.

The Welsh comeback gathered pace when George North took advantage of a Yoann Huget bobble to score a second try and yet, with eight minutes remaining, France were still in front, and seemingly in the box seat when Gaël Fickou won a high ball to give them possession around the Welsh 22.

It was then that France panicked though, with two floated passes as the defence flew up. The third came from Sébastien Vahaamahina, and George North spotted it a mile off, raced up and plucked it out of the air before racing home from inside his half. Dan Biggar converted and Wales won 24-19 at the Stade de France.

From Paris to Rome, Wales had a second successive away game to begin the Championship, with Warren Gatland mixing things up against the Azzurri.

Dan Biggar’s boot had opened up a 12-0 lead but Braam Steyn’s try and the boot of Tommaso Allan cut the deficit back to two points early in the second half.

Wales had been frustrated when looking for a try in the first half but on 54 minutes, they finally found a way through. Liam Williams was crucial, as quick hands gave him some space, and he sliced through the Italian defence.

He then fed Josh Adams on his outside and the winger dotted down. Wales kicked on from there, with Jon Davies adding a second try as they eventually ran out 26-15 winners at the Stadio Olimpico.

Next up were England and the battle of the two unbeaten sides. Eddie Jones’ team had the better of the first half, leading 10-3 at the break.

Wales were able to reverse the momentum and cut the English lead thanks to the boot of Gareth Anscombe but with 12 minutes remaining, they still trailed 13-9.

It was then that the Welsh stepped it up a notch, an attack which went through 35 phases forcing England backwards deeper and deeper into their own territory.

Finally, they found a way through, Dan Biggar’s wide pass changing the point of attack and Cory Hill running a clever line to charge over from close-range. Biggar converted and Josh Adams then got another to seal the 21-13 success.

With three down and two to go, Wales headed to Edinburgh to take on Scotland. They looked in control when Adams and Davies crossed inside the first half-hour to open up a 15-6 advantage.

However, in the second half, Scotland enjoyed all the possession and territory, scoring one fine try through Darcy Graham.

This Welsh team have been known for their ability to hold out against the most ferocious attacks, though, and this was another example.

Shaun Edwards’ defensive system worked wonders, knocking back each and every Scottish charge, and eventually, Gareth Anscombe slotted a late penalty to close out the 18-11 victory.

The final challenge was Ireland at Principality Stadium on Super Saturday. In a febrile atmosphere, the opening exchanges were always going to be crucial.

Wales could not have hoped for a better start. Pressure from George North from kick-off earned a lineout in the Irish 22.

Wales then set up a pre-planned move that ended with Gareth Anscombe chipping over the top for Hadleigh Parkes to dot down after just 70 seconds.

That was the catalyst Wales needed, but Parkes’ early contribution was not done there. Ireland looked set to hit back immediately when Jacob Stockdale got into the clear down the left. It was then that Parkes somehow got back and made the tackle, forcing the winger to knock on.

Wales never looked back and clinched the Slam in spectacular fashion with a 25-7 success.