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Shane Williams column: Do I think this is the best Wales team ever? You’re damn right I do

WHAT a match, what a win, what a team!

The question now is whether this is the best Welsh side of all time. What do we think?

After this victory over England, I’d have to say it is! Warren Gatland’s men are now only two games away from a Six Nations Grand Slam and they have finally erased the record run of 11 wins which has stood for 109 years.

The record-breaking 12th triumph gained ample revenge for the defeat at Twickenham in 1910 that stopped the four-year unbeaten run of the team led by Billy Trew all those years ago.

It also stopped the English juggernaut in its tracks. No Triple Crown and Grand Slam for Eddie Jones’ side this season. But the dream is still alive for Wales and wouldn’t it be the perfect send-off for Warren if he could end his reign as Wales coach with a Grand Slam to add to those of 2008 and 2012. Now, at least, we can start thinking about it and how exciting is that for a Wales fan?

The trip to Scotland won’t be easy and Ireland in Cardiff on the final weekend will be even tougher than England. It means we must not get too carried away too soon.

Still, as Wales supporters these are heady days and as supporters we should instead sit back and reflect on a job well done. If the first half at Principality Stadium was in a similar vein to so much of the rugby in the opening two matches – moderate and average – then the second was sensational.

And that try from Cory Hill after 34 phases of strength-sapping, bone-crunching, life-threatening carries really was a thing of beauty. Then came the conjurer’s trick at the end from Josh Adams to seal the deal – what a day!

The good teams always find a way to counteract the strengths of their opponents and come away with victory. The best sides win when they aren’t at their best. If it was a case of the latter in France and Italy, the second half showing against England was all about finding a way to beat the bully boys.

In much the same way as their Under-20 team had done against Wales at Colwyn Bay on Friday night, Eddie’s English beasts tried to bash their way to glory.

It wasn’t pretty and they ran out of steam in the end.

As for Wales, they kept their discipline, tidied up the errors that thwarted them in the first half, and then dominated the closing quarter. The momentum swing following those three penalties in a row conceded by Kyle Sinckler. Then the kick out on the full by Owen Farrell changed the course of the game.

You could see the belief flood into the Welsh players and the crowd took it as their opportunity to sing their side to victory. Farrell is going to have ‘Bread of Heaven’ and ‘Hymns and Arias’ ringing in his ears for weeks to come!

I was at the stadium working in the media and the atmosphere was just incredible. It was certainly up there with that famous game of 2013, even with the roof off.

In Wales we always bask in glory after defeating the English and the players certainly deserve their chance to party, but there must be no crowing after this victory. It was record breaking, it was compelling, and it proved there is something special about this group of players, yet there is still more to come from them.

Just imagine if this side can put together a half-decent first half showing in the last two games.

That is what Gatland and his coaches will be working on ahead of what is going to be a very tricky trip to Murrayfield to face Scotland. The last thing we want now is to see our title chances go up in smoke with defeat in an unlucky 13th game after 12 successive wins.

Thunderclap: Cardiff erupts as Josh Adams concludes the match with a superb try set up by a cross-field kick by Dan Biggar. Photo Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The line-out needs to improve, we need to get the ball wider a bit quicker, and it would be great to get our noses in front earlier in the game. You can’t question the resolve, resilience and tenacity of this Welsh side. They came back from the dead in Paris after falling behind by 16 points in the first half and then they won in Rome after making 10 changes.

Now the side is developing its depth to such an extent that players like Dillon Lewis can come off the bench and make a major impact. Adam Beard did the same too. There was Aaron Wainwright as well. The young bucks have learned on the hoof and the side gets stronger as the game gets longer.

Scotland have significant injuries to contend with and they will be hugely disappointed to have only beaten Italy so far. I’d still expect Wales to have too much for them in Edinburgh.

When I look at the England performance, it was one I will remember for a long time. I was so pleased for Alun Wyn Jones. The image of him celebrating Wales’ win at the end, pumping his fists and with his eye balls bulging in delight, will live with me for a very, very long time.

I’m sure it will be the picture on all the Sunday newspapers and the last thing Wales fans think of as they drift off into a drunken, hazy, yet delirious sleep!

There were heroes everywhere, especially in the second half. Dan Biggar made a big impact as a substitute for Gareth Anscombe, but both men more than played their part.

I’d also like to pay a special tribute to Josh. He is going to be some player. What pleased me most about Josh’s performance was that for at least half the game, he had very, very little opportunities to attack.

In that time he was absolutely perfect in defence, making expert reads to thwart English attacks. When he flew out of the line, he tackled his man. When he decided to hang back and drift, he pushed England’s men wide and out of danger.

Then when the game opened up and players tired in the final 10 minutes, he came into his own. His try from Dan’s cross kick was the icing on the cake for Wales and set the Principality Stadium absolutely potty.

I can pay him no higher complement than to say it was a try I’d have loved to have scored – not that I’d have got there!

So the next stop is Edinburgh. Wales will rest up this week, recuperate, and go again. So long as everybody is fit, I’d keep the same side for Scotland. Leigh Halfpenny could become an option after his welcome return from concussion, but Liam Williams – who was man of the match against England – has been simply sensational and must continue at full-back.

Warren will be delighted with everything and Wales, as we’ve been saying for a while now, couldn’t be in a better place.

A Grand Slam is within touching distance and most of Wales can already taste it.

SHANE WILLIAMS / Photo: Getty Images

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