England put together a mature and complete performance to beat Wales 29-18 in Round 4 of the 2014 Six Nations and take hold of the second spot on the tournament table.
The loss eliminates Wales from contention for the Six Nations crown, while England would win the tournament in the event of an Ireland loss in France and an English win over Italy in Round 5.
Wales never looked able to compete with the English, but a number of penalties kept last year's champions in the game, courtesy of a brilliant kicking display from Leigh Halfpenny.
PENALTY WALES: Another monster kick from Halfpenny makes it England 13-9 Wales. He's keeping them in the game: http://t.co/X91OAmI9Zb— WalesOnline Rugby (@WalesRugby) March 9, 2014
The full-back was clinical from all over the field, including a fantastic kick from a difficult angle that closed the gap to just five points going into half-time.
England dominated much of the first half and scored an early try through scrum-half Danny Care, but it was centre Luther Burrell who scored the try of the day after a beautiful kick from Billy Twelvetrees.
BBC's Lewis Coombes gave Twelvetrees his credit:
Brilliant poke through by Twelvetrees... Burrell finishes. Great aggressive, attacking rugby. England singing in the sunshine. #6Nations— LEWIS COOMBES (@LEWIS_C) March 9, 2014
Wales were nowhere during the first half, relying far too much on a kicking game that wasn't working. A change of tactics seemed to bring some improvements after the re-start, with a more direct approach putting pressure on the English defensive line, but the Welsh resurgence was short-lived.
A number of Owen Farrell penalties quickly built the lead to double digits, and Wales never recovered.
Mark Keohane was stunned by the lack of intensity shown by the Welsh title holders:
England have been superior v Wales in every aspect. Wales lack of defensive intensity surprising— Mark Keohane (@mark_keohane) March 9, 2014
All credit goes to the English squad, however, and Matt Giteau noticed how impressive England's rush defense was:
England's rush d is putting an enormous amount of pressure on Wales.. England looking strong— Matt Giteau (@giteau_rugby) March 9, 2014
The team never panicked as Wales were able to keep it close going into the break, in what was a tremendous display of maturity from the young English squad.
Farrell didn't miss a single penalty, icing the game for England and epitomising the progress this team has made since the loss to France in Round 1.
With the win, England draw level with Ireland and France on points, but the Irish squad have a vast advantage in point differential. England do have the advantage on France, so should the French squad beat Ireland and England emerge victorious against the winless Italians, England would win the Six Nations.
Ireland have only beaten France once on French soil since 1972, according to Huw Richards of The New York Times.
Wales will host Scotland with both teams no longer contending for the championship.