England stayed on course for the Grand Slam and a first Six Nations title since 2003 by beating the defending champions France 17-9 in a battle of attrition at Twickenham yesterday.
The northern hemisphere heavyweights went into half time locked at 9-9 thanks to three penalties apiece by England fly-half Toby Flood and France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili.
But a 42nd-minute try by fullback Ben Foden and a penalty by replacement Jonny Wilkinson, which put him back on top of the all-time list of Test scorers, pushed England clear and sealed a third straight victory.
"I think we could have played better in the first half," the England captain Mike Tindall said in a television interview.
"When they flooded the midfield we knew we had to change things around but sometimes you have to win ugly and, sometimes, you have to enjoy that."
England must still beat Scotland at home and Ireland away to complete the Grand Slam. The defeat ended France's eight-match winning streak in the Six Nations.
Despite being largely unconvincing in seeing off Italy 24-16 in Rome yesterday, Matthew Rees, the Wales captain, is confident his side can still be Six Nations champions.
Wales were under pressure for much of the game, and had to rely on the boot of Stephen Jones, who kicked 11 points, to get them out of trouble.
Said Rees: "It was a very tough match but our defence was great.
"We can definitely win the title. That is two wins on the trot and we have a home game to come against Ireland and then round it off with a huge match against France in Paris."
Morgan Stoddart and Sam Warburton both crossed the line for Wales, while Gonzalo Canale and Sergio Parisse, the captain, scored the Italy tries.
"It is a tough place to come and get a result, but I'm pleased with the result," said Warren Gatland, the Wales coach.
"I'm not pleased with how we played at times as we felt we gave away some soft tries.
"It still puts us in contention for the championship. It's a big one for us next at home against Ireland."
Said Nick Mallett, the Italy coach: "We weren't good enough to win, but we gave 100 per cent on the field and created chances."
Sean Lamont returns to the Scotland starting line-up against Ireland at Murrayfield today intent on helping banish the memory of the dismal defeat against Wales.
The 30-year-old Scarlets back returns at inside centre for his 53rd cap with the words of fury and frustration he launched at the Scottish side after they went down 24-6 to the Welsh still reverberating.
Lamont called for a session of finger-pointing and self-criticism from the entire squad, himself included, in a bid to salvage something out of a season that promised so much for the Scots and so far has delivered so little.
He received a frosty reception from some of his teammates following the comments, but "once I explained to them what I wanted to say, rather than what was coming second hand through the press, it was fine. It was a bit of raw emotion at the time and maybe I shouldn't have said some of the things I said, but everything's cleared up and we're back to normal."