England fight back to defeat Wales in Six Nations

Sat, Feb 10, 2024, 11:06 PM
by Reuters
England did enough to defeat Wales. Photo: Getty Images
England did enough to defeat Wales. Photo: Getty Images

Battling England have fought back from a 14-5 deficit at halftime to beat Wales 16-14 in a scruffy but hugely physical Six Nations clash, extending a Welsh winless championship run at Twickenham that stretches back to 2012.

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Wales led at the interval - for the first time at Twickenham this century - after a penalty try and a nicely-created second for flanker Alex Mann with England on the board via Ben Earl.

But in a disjointed second half, England gradually gained control, closing the gap with a Ford penalty and Fraser Dingwall's try before Ford landed the winning kick nine minutes from time.

It was not a great performance by England, who had won only three of their previous 10 games at Twickenham, but, unlike the boos that rang round the ground when losing to Fiji in August, the crowd recognised the team's endeavour and noisily acclaimed the victory.

England, who came from 10-0 down to beat Italy last week, top the fledgling Six Nations standings after two wins – matching their championship tally from each of the last three years.

"This is a team which stays in the fight, which finds a way. It is a young side and we have a lot to learn, but we will grow together," England coach Steve Borthwick said.

"At halftime we were very composed and clear what we need to do and we had belief we would go on and find a way. In some ways we stepped forward and showed the depth of the squad in certain positions."

Wales were first on the board with a penalty try after England collapsed a maul - with Ethan Roots joining Ollie Chessum in the sin bin.

Despite being down to 13, England stormed back when Earl picked up at the back of a scrum and scuttled over. Ford failed to convert, though, as it was ruled he had started his approach when he took a step to the left, allowing Rio Dyer to hoof the ball off the tee – much to Ford's fury.

Wales's ambition paid off just before halftime when Tomos Williams and Tommy Reffell combined to send Mann over for a try that put the visitors 14-5 ahead.

England struck first in the second half via Ford's boot after Wales gave away their first penalty in the 47th minute.

A desperate tackle by Tommy Freeman to prevent Josh Adams claiming a third try after a great burst by fullback Cameron Winnett.

That proved vital as an England forward assault opened the way for Ford and Elliot Daly to send in Dingwall for a diving finish in the corner.

As England cranked up the pressure, Mason Grady deliberately knocked down a pass, earning a yellow and giving Ford an easy penalty to put England 16-14 ahead.

Wales, with only two championship wins at Twickenham in 36 years, launched a strong late assault but aggressive defence forced them back to leave Wales coach Warren Gatland ruing another narrow loss.

"It's part of the journey we're on," he said. "I said to the players we have to be disappointed with that. 'You should have won that'.

"We are going to be a good team, it's just going to take us a little bit of time."

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