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Let's have the spirit of '99: Wembley winners Mark Taylor and Ben Evans issue rally cry ahead of Wales v England

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: March 16, 2013

By Mark orders

Scott Gibbs dives over for his famous match-winning try at Wembley in 1999 that denied England a Grand Slam — and the title

Scott Gibbs dives over for his famous match-winning try at Wembley in 1999 that denied England a Grand Slam — and the title

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WALES will take the field against England today (5pm) with two heroes from 1999 arriving at the same sobering conclusion — that one mistake could settle the Six Nations title decider at the Millennium Stadium.

Ex-Swansea pair Ben Evans and Mark Taylor played in the never-to-be-forgotten 32-31 victory over the old enemy at Wembley 14 years ago.

England will be chasing a Grand Slam again this afternoon — but unlike all those years ago, Wales will also have a title to play for, needing to win by eight points to be crowned champions or by seven and managing to avoid being outscored by more than two on try count.

The scene is set for a nail-biting encounter, one that the two veterans from the Graham Henry era believe could go either way.

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Evans said: “There is absolutely nothing between the sides, so it could come down to the finest margins, perhaps a daft mistake that costs one team the game.

“Sometimes it happens like that in big games because people are so nervous.

“I have a feeling it’s going to be won on one kick.

“Discipline will be absolutely vital.”

Evans, still going strong as a player at English Championship club Moseley, reckons Rob Howley’s side will face steely opponents in the English class of 2013.

“They are a tough outfit with a good work ethic,” he said.

“Gone are the Champagne Charlies who filled past English teams. These boys are grafters.

“Stuart Lancaster took them up north to train and he has turned them into a grounded squad.

“But I like the look of Wales as well. They may not have been playing exciting rugby, but the basics of their game are in place and they are getting results.”

Wales’s first challenge will be to win the game, no easy task against opponents who are chasing a Grand Slam.

They are bidding to become the first Welsh side to win back back-to-back titles since 1979, and their challenge will be to build a victory rather than chase points from the start and end up taking needless risks.

Taylor, Gibbs’s partner in the win at the Twin Towers, said: “Wales can’t take the field thinking too much about winning by eight points. You have to let the game evolve and make your decisions accordingly.

“My guess is it will be a really tight game because they are both powerful teams with so many good players.

“Wales have shown what they are about up front over the past few games, and England are of the same ilk, with a big set-piece and forwards who don’t stop working.

“Maybe Wales don’t have the subtlety behind that they had when Shane Williams played, but they have some strong runners who are not easy to defend against.

“Goal-kicking is going to be huge.

“Owen Farrell is good, but so is Leigh Halfpenny. In Leigh, you couldn’t wish for a better goal-kicker. He is one of the best in the world.

“One mistake could decide the game. I definitely wouldn’t put my house on the outcome.

“It is going to be a brutal, brutal game.”

Gethin Jenkins will lead Wales after being handed the captaincy by Rob Howley, with Sam Warburton staying in the ranks, the latest in a long line of big calls the acting head coach has made in this campaign, most of which have worked.

He justified this one on the basis that it allowed Warburton to focus on his role at blindside flanker, with Wales needing the Blues player and Justin Tipuric to work well to counter what is expected to be a strong challenge at the breakdown.

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11 comments

  • brian17  |  March 17 2013, 10:43AM

    to neathboy,fair play wales deserved that win,wales outplayed england from the start,and yes l know it means a lot to the welsh to beat the english.soccer is my sport,glad you learnt to spell,ever thought of going on mastermind?,my last comment would not submit thats why for some reason it appears 3 times.

  • Neathboy234  |  March 17 2013, 7:36AM

    brian17 you got a stammer boy, that will be all the excitement. BTW i'm sure all the English agree with you when you say it's just a game, after getting stuffed not much else they could say. As for most Welsh i'm sure they will agree with PB

    |   -1
  • brian17  |  March 16 2013, 8:29PM

    to neathboy,thought shaun edwards was english,where did you go to spell,not school l hope.

    |   1
  • brian17  |  March 16 2013, 8:29PM

    to neathboy,thought shaun edwards was english,where did you go to spell,not school l hope.

    |   1
  • brian17  |  March 16 2013, 8:28PM

    to neathboy,thought shaun edwards was english,where did you go to spell,not school l hope.

    |   1
  • JerryLew  |  March 16 2013, 7:53PM

    Quote on bbc website... "England seldom benefited from the decisions of referee Steve Walsh" Just look at the score & by the way the ref was doing his job.

  • Neathboy234  |  March 16 2013, 4:23PM

    brian17 no i'm quoting what Phil Nennet had to say. And as you may ot may not know Mr Bennet worked for the EP for many a year. And as nice_nails i'm just repeating what Phil had to say back in 1977 prior to the game against England, do try to get your facts right. Obviously you are unaware that Ruby is more then just a game in Wales. The reason Wales didn't go over to Rugby L over 100 years ago was that we could continue to play and squash England in the mud As you say "May the best team win", ha ha ha. What plant are you from, obviously not planet Wales lol lol lol

  • brian17  |  March 16 2013, 1:27PM

    to nice nails,no thats the way neathboy thinks,read his first line.

    |   1
  • nice_nails  |  March 16 2013, 12:33PM

    Brian, neathboy was quoting Phil Bennet, any problems with the comment take it up with Phil Bennet.

    |   2
  • nice_nails  |  March 16 2013, 12:33PM

    Brian, neathboy was quoting Phil Bennet, any problems with the comment take it up with Phil Bennet.

    |   1

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