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Six Nations sledgegate: 'He should take it as a compliment'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Ospreys boss Tony Booth reckons Wales hooker Dewi Lake should take it as a compliment that England resorted to sledging him when he came on as a sub during the closing minutes of last Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations match at Twickenham. The Welsh were trailing 20-12 when Lake was sent on as a 69th-minute replacement for Ryan Elias.  

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Things soon got tasty with Lake involved. There were verbals between him and George at an England scrum penalty and then came a penalty-winning turnover on halfway by Lake on the ball-carrying George which was followed by a sledge. 

It didn’t end there either as it was debated on social media post-game how Courtney Lawes, Maro Itoje and Nick Isiekwe took it in turns to heckle Lake as he waited for his Wales teammates to come in for a 78th-minute lineout. The Welsh hooker brushed off the attention and his team soon scored the converted try that left the match finishing 23-19 in England’s favour.  

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England forwards coach Richard Cockerill claimed he wasn’t aware of the sledging but Booth, Lake’s club boss at Ospreys, had plenty of admiration for how his player reacted in the circumstances.  

“He’s more an oak tree than a shrinking violet,” quipped Booth. “He’s a very combative, competitive guy and I think the fact they have gone after him he should take as a compliment. He certainly won’t shy down from any challenge and when called on in that critical moment he did his job and did what he had to do so it was a wasted effort, wasn’t it?”   

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When asked about the sledging, Cockerill said: “To be fair, I’m unaware of that situation but it’s a game where boys are playing against each other and it’s a fiercely competitive Test match. I’m sure there are words exchanged and there are some wry smiles going across each camp. I don’t think it is anything unusual that you don’t see in any game. 

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“Some might call it banter and fun, it depends on how you want to frame it,” he continued, adding that the verbals against Ireland in round four on March 12 will be interesting. “Yeah, I’m sure they will have some good banter for us and I’m sure there will be some great contests across the board.” 

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