It’s almost that time of year again, the RBS Six Nations kicks off on 1st February with France hosting Wales on Friday evening. Warren Gatland’s side will be hoping to get off to a winning start and, although it’s expected to be a close match, fans will be quietly confident of a positive outcome.
A win on match day one will go a long way in providing hope that Wales could go on and win the Six Nations for the first time since 2013, although England and favorites Ireland might have other ideas. No matter what happens, the Welsh will be there or thereabouts and supporters will have aspirations of a fourth Grand Slam in 15 years. The last ‘Slam success came back in 2012, so let’s take a look back at how Wales went about achieving the impressive feat.
Ireland, Scotland & England
Wales got off to the perfect start when they edged past Ireland 23-21 in a topsy-turvy encounter. The lead changed no more than five times but ultimately, the Welsh had too much for their hosts. Leigh Halfpenny’s last-gasp penalty provided the match-winning points for Gatland’s side, after it looked like Ireland would snatch victory. Jonathan Davies touched down twice with George North supplying the other try. Halfpenny scored one conversion and a penalty to help his side get off to a winning start.
Scotland were the visitors to the Millennium Stadium on match day two, and were promptly beaten by their superior hosts. With that said, the game was tied at 3-3 each at the interval but a devastating 14 minute spell early in the second period broke Scotland’s resistance. Wales touched down with Alex Cuthbert on 41 minutes, with the rest of the points coming from the boot of Halfpenny.
A trip to Twickenham was next for up for Wales, and a 19-12 victory meant they claimed the Triple Crown in the back yard of their greatest rivals. It was one of the tightest games in recent Six Nations memory, with Owen Farrell and Halfpenny kicking all the points to keep the sides locked at 12-12. With the clock winding down, Scott Williams stole the ball and a kick-ahead allowed him to burst through and get the game’s only try. Arguably the most pivotal moment in Wales’ quest to claim the Grand Slam.
Italy and France
Wales welcomed Italy on match day four and despite being heavy favourites, made hard work of beating the Azzurri. The 24-3 score line suggests that Wales weren’t at their typical best but at the end of the day, the result is all that mattered. Tries from Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts gave Gatland’s side some breathing space after Halfpenny and Rhys Priestland had kicked the earlier points.
Wales’ title decider was to be played out at the Millennium Stadium against a France side who had a tournament to forget. With that said, the French put up an admiral display which saw them frustrate their hosts in spells but ultimately, Wales’ quality shone through.
Cuthbert scored the only try for Wales as Halfpenny kicked the remaining points, giving Gatland’s heroes a third Grand Slam in eight years with a 16-9 win. As the full-time whistle blew, the expectant crowd roared in celebration as Wales cemented themselves as one of the world’s finest teams.
Currently, Wales are priced at 11/2 to win the 2019 tournament and a tempting 12/1 to win the Grand Slam. You can find all the Six Nations winner odds right here.