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England secure Six Nations win in Cardiff for the first time since 2017

25 Feb 2023 4 minute read
Wales’ Gareth Thomas hands off the tackle from England’s Ellis Genge. Photo David Davies PA Images

A tumultuous week for Welsh rugby ended with defeat at home to England in Cardiff – their third reverse in this season’s Six Nations.

The victory was the first for the visitors in Wales since 2017.

England’s success – only a third in the Welsh capital from their last eight visits – kept alive their Guinness Six Nations title hopes – although tournament heavyweights France and Ireland now loom large.

It might not have been pretty, but tries from wing Anthony Watson, prop Kyle Sinckler and centre Ollie Lawrence underpinned a confidence-building victory on the road.

Owen Farrell landed a penalty and conversion – he also missed four kicks at goal – as England had enough in the tank to claim a first Principality Stadium triumph for six years.

Wales briefly led early in the second half through wing Louis Rees-Zammit’s interception try, converted by full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who also kicked a penalty, but a build-up that was engulfed by the threat of Wales players going on strike, which was only averted 72 hours before kick-off, ended with a third successive tournament loss.

It was the first time for 16 years that Wales had been toppled in their first three Six Nations fixtures, and a possible wooden spoon decider against Italy in Rome on March 11 now beckons.

Wales’ regional rugby financial issues remain far from being resolved, yet a clash that almost did not happen could prove an important stepping stone in England’s development under head coach Borthwick as they recorded their biggest away victory over Wales since 2003.

England came under immediate pressure when skipper Farrell had an attempted defensive clearance charged down by Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau, but the visitors cleared before their opponents could arrive in sufficient numbers.

Wayward kicking was a theme of the opening 10 minutes from both sides, yet England showed signs of settling as Farrell kicked a 48-metre penalty to nudge his team ahead.

Wales showed plenty of intent, with Test debutant Mason Grady prominent, but they were undone by a slick England move after 19 minutes.

Defensive cover

Wing Max Malins broke Wales’ initial defensive cover, before quickly recycled possession was worked wide and Watson finished impressively after collecting number eight Alex Dombrandt’s pass.

Farrell’s touchline conversion attempt hit the post, then Wales opened their account when Halfpenny landed an angled penalty and England led 8-3 early in the second quarter.

Wales persisted with aerial tactics, yet such an approach was meat and drink for England as Malins and full-back Freddie Steward dealt comfortably with the bombardment.

Farrell drifted a long-range penalty wide eight minutes before half-time, but England continued to dominate territory as Wales huffed and puffed, although creating nothing in terms of a clear-cut attacking chance.

Wales’ Louis Rees-Zammit is tackled by England’s Jack van Poortvliet. Photo David Davies. PA Images

Wales finally stirred when Rees-Zammit made a threatening half-break that took him inside England’s 22, only for Steward to halt his progress before the home side conceded another penalty and Farrell cleared.

Wales then attacked again, yet they were unable to capitalise on promising build-up play and England took a five-point lead into the interval.

Interception

But it took Wales just 45 seconds of the second period to wipe out that deficit as Rees-Zammit intercepted Malins’ pass and sprinted 50 metres for an opportunist try that Halfpenny converted.

Rees-Zammit’s ninth touchdown in 23 Tests underlined his finishing ability, yet it took England just five minutes to recapture the initiative.

Prop Ellis Genge ran aggressively into the heart of Wales’ defence and the England forwards did not require a second invitation to set up camp, with Sinckler crashing over from close range and Farrell converting.

The game had suddenly burst into life and Wales head coach Warren Gatland made his first changes as Biggar replaced Owen Williams and Saracens centre Nick Tompkins took over from Josh Adams, with Test debutant Mason Grady moving to the wing.

Another Farrell penalty miss meant England could not pull away and the final quarter was inevitably frantic as both teams went for broke.

But England had the final say, with Lawrence crossing for a try six minutes from time to leave them home and dry.


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Riki
Riki
6 months ago

These Welsh players are truly awful, not enough speed in support by anyone through 1-8 And don’t get me started on Tomas Williams, how exactly is he an International. He has one setting and that is Kick, even when it’s not needed. The only two players who seem to care are Nick Tompkins and LRZ. And on that note, What’s the point of having LRZ when you literally play opposite to his Strengths? But no doubt, nothing will change. Btw, England first try was clearly a forward pass in the build up. And second one wasn’t even grounded. But thanks… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Riki
Rob
Rob
6 months ago
Reply to  Riki

Its not just Gatland we need back, its also Shaun Edwards. His defense coaching was formidable. Look at France

Riki
Riki
6 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Did you see the coaches? They looked defeated at the 50 minute mark. They looked as though they weren’t bothered at all had Wales lost. I agree, Edwards is a massive miss.

Riki
Riki
6 months ago

Comment removed for mentioning the Woke, This Nation.Cymru is getting truly pathetic. It seems many a people rather have hear easy lies over hard truths.

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
6 months ago

I was expecting England to clock up at least 50 points after Wales were hammered by the Scots, but a 10 points difference is nothing for the English to feel proud about. A more respectable scoreline which might be because the kangaroo court has been quiet.

Dr John Ball
Dr John Ball
6 months ago
Reply to  Iago Prydderch

Just for reference. Farell had a bad day, if he’d been on form and kicked the penalties and conversion, he would have added a further ten points.
That has served to flatter the Welsh score and an abysmal showing.

Jack
Jack
6 months ago

If we’re banning Russia from sporting events due to their illegal occupation of Ukraine, surely we should be banning England because of their illegal occupation of Cymru, Scotland and the North of Ireland?

Arthur Owen
Arthur Owen
6 months ago
Reply to  Jack

Can’t comments be banned for utter irrelevance.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
6 months ago

Awful match again. Wales were sloth-like. Mistakes galore and without a plan A let alone B or C.. This is a team full of previous Grandslam winners who have forgotten how to play the basics of rugby. Player spokesman Ken Owen, who I might add isn’t captain material, mediated regarding possible strike action over regional contracts forgetting they don’t have any firm foundation to make threats when the product they are selling at the moment isn’t worth the entry fee. The problem the WRU & players will face soon is an even more apathetic public, a near empty national stadium,… Read more »

Gareth
Gareth
6 months ago

I am no fan of the WRU, but must speak to defend them. For years they have attempted to change the way we do things here, only to be out manoeuvred and stabbed in the back by the junior/ amature clubs. The have tried to seperate the Pro and Am games for funding but are unable to move, as every club in Cymru has an equal vote Pro or Am, and the self interest of blazer wearing amatures has always won the day, ie junior club members get to meet royalty and mingle on big match days, because they are… Read more »

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