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Sam Underhill hailed for miracle tackle which denied Wales and keeps England's historic Six Nations title hat-trick bid alive

Mirror logo Mirror 12/02/2018 Alex Spink
a rugby player with a football ball: Credits: PA Wire © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: PA Wire

In time, memories will fade of Sam Underhill coming to the rescue of England and their Six Nations hat-trick ­challenge.

The record books will ­remind us only that Jonny May scored two tries, Mike Brown was named man of the match and England won 12-6 for their 24th victory in 25 attempts under Eddie Jones.

It will take the sharpest minds to recall that the result was made possible by a defensive play from Underhill which verged on super-human.

“Unbelievable!” raved England centre Owen Farrell. “One of the best tackles you’ll see. Sam is a tackling machine.”

There have been some astonishing last-ditch interventions down the years made in the name of the Rose.

a group of men playing a game of football: Credits: Reuters

Credits: Reuters
© Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

Joe Worsley tops the list for his tap-tackle on France wing Vincent Clerc which decided the 2007 World Cup semi-final in Paris.

Not far behind would be Ben Cohen’s smothering hit on Ben Blair which earned England victory over the All Blacks in 2002.

Josh Lewsey, on South ­Africa’s Jean de Villiers in 2006, and Jack Nowell, with a miracle hit to deny Ireland’s Robbie Henshaw in 2016, also merit mention.

To those must now be added Saturday's epic from Underhill.

Wales were rightly aggrieved by the video referee’s refusal to award Gareth Anscombe a first-half try. But they could have no complaints at the way Scott Williams was denied by Sam’s slam.

“They were on our 22 and I remember slipping over – then sheer panic,” said ­Underhill.

“I just pegged it to the ­corner because I’ve slipped and they have an overlap. I’m glad I made it in time.”

He will never be a story-teller.

“It looked a try all the way,” said Sir Clive ­Woodward, recalling ­Williams’ dive for the line, which launched with Underhill still out of the TV frame.

“I can’t remember a try being stopped when a player has gone for that early dive to surf in on top of the wet surface. You could watch that scenario 100 times and the attacker would score on 99 occasions.”

But not this time.

“It was a proper contact by Sam,” added ­Farrell. “Normally people get there and try to get them into touch.

a close up of a man: Credits: PA Wire © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: PA Wire

“He’s got in close, got his shoulder on him, flipped him over and not even given him the chance to place the ball. It gave us energy. It would have been a proper scrap if the try had been scored.”

As a statement of what this England team is about, Underhill’s tackle spoke far more eloquently than Jones needlessly picking a fight with the media for ­supposedly undervaluing Brown.

“There’s a resilience to us,” agreed Farrell, whose vision and big-game ­temperament was ­responsible for May’s tries. “But I wouldn’t call it a feeling of invincibility. We take confidence from the run we’re on, but we don’t take our eye off the ball.

“You can’t rest on your laurels too much while you’re here.”

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