Warburton: This is the best moment of my career

Superstitious Wales skipper Sam Warburton has banned himself from talking about the Grand Slam his World Cup semi-finalists are now favourites to achieve next month.

A tense Twickenham triumph against England – only their second at English rugby headquarters since 1988 – means Wales already have the Triple Crown trophy safely secured. But that is just one third of Wales’ Six Nations mission accomplished.

“The players don’t even dare say those two words [Grand Slam],” he said.

“We’ve got two tough games to come, and hopefully we will have a fully fit squad fighting and ready to go. We haven’t formally said those words are banned, but I don’t want to jinx myself, so I wouldn’t dare say them.”

Warburton delivered an astounding performance considering he had not taken part in a contact training session since going off injured at half-time against Ireland three weeks ago.

His genial work at the breakdown was even eclipsed by a remarkable try-saving tackle on England’s midfield juggernaut Manu Tuilagi as he once again set standards for his team-mates to follow.

“This is probably the best moment of my career,” Warburton added.

“It is nice that after all the hard work we have put in over the last 12 months, we’ve got some recognition and a little bit of silverware.

“Everyone was enjoying passing the trophy around in the changing rooms. It’s a massive achievement. It is a young squad, and the first time they have achieved it.”

Wales did not lead the contest until Scott Williams’ breakaway 76th-minute try. But they still endured a fraught finale.

England thought they had scored with the final play of a pulsating game. But television match official Iain Ramage ruled that wing David Strettle had not grounded the ball, and referee Steve Walsh signalled full-time with Toby Flood waiting to take what he hoped would have been an equalising conversion.

The performance boosted England interim coach Stuart Lancaster’s chances of being made permanent. Buoyed by outstanding performances from Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi, a pair of 20-year-olds, Ian Ritchie takes office as the Rugby Football Union’s new chief executive. The organisation’s so-called “reputational damage rebuild plan” is working well.

But while Lancaster was proud to see the England team reconnect with their public – one of the key aims of his tenure – he demanded improvements before they tackle France in Paris.

“It was a big step forward,” Lancaster said.

“As a coach you look for signs that the things you’re doing in training are coming to fruition.

“We saw signs in the first two games of the culture and spirit we’re trying to build and you could see signs of our discipline and defensive structure. But perhaps not in attack.

“Against Wales we got better set-piece ball and we went on to play with some tempo and intensity, with better width and better shape.

“We can’t set our standards lower than wanting to win every game. There is credit to be taken, positives to be taken, but also lessons to be learned.”

Scorers for England: Pens: Farrell (four).

Scorers for Wales: Try: S Williams. Con: Halfpenny. Pens: Halfpenny (four).

Yellow card: Priestland (Wales, 45-55).

ENGLAND: B Foden; C Ashton, M Tuilagi, B Barritt, D Strettle; O Farrell, L Dickson; A Corbisiero, D Hartley, D Cole; M Botha, G Parling; T Croft, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan.

Replacements: B Youngs for Dickson (61), C Lawes for Botha (61), M Stevens for Corbisiero (66), T Flood for Farrell (66), R Webber for Hartley (73), M Brown for Foden (78).

WALES: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, G North; R Priestland, M Phillips; G Jenkins, K Owens, A Jones; AW Jones, I Evans; D Lydiate, S Warburton (capt), T Faletau.

Replacements: S Williams for Roberts (41), R Jones for AW Jones (54).

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia).

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