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'Biggest lesson' Steve Borthwick learned from England win over Wales

By Liam Heagney
England celebrate against Wales (Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images)

England head coach Steve Borthwick has celebrated seeing his team move to the top of the Guinness Six Nations by praising their determination to fight off adversity.

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His Jamie George-led team trailed Wales 5-14 at the interval at Twickenham after a first half in which they were hurting on the penalty count and forced to endure having two players yellow-carded, sin binnings that overlapped and left them reduced to just 13 for a short period.

England ‘won’ that 13-versus-15 scenario 5-0 and their resistance then reached a crescendo in the second half as they fought their way back from being nine points down to win 16-14.

A 72nd-minute penalty from George Ford eventually put them ahead after an unconverted try nine minutes earlier by Fraser Dingwall had closed the gap a minimum, a riposte that left the head coach beaming.

“There’s a team here that stays in the fight, that finds a way. Were there improvements in that from last weekend (in Italy)?

Fixture
Six Nations
England
16 - 14
Full-time
Wales
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“Yes, there was which shows the work we’re doing, the work these players are doing each day is paying dividends. But the biggest lesson here is the trait the players are developing themselves, which is that they stay in the fight.”

Borthwick insisted he didn’t hear the booing from some England supporters after the half-time whistle had blown. Instead, he insisted his team remained composed and confident they would eventually edge past Wales, which they did.

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“I didn’t hear that to be honest,” he said about the alleged negative reaction from some supporters at the break. “What I saw was a support base that stuck with this team as they were finding their way through that game.

“You look at that first half and the team did a lot of good things. Disappointingly we had a penalty count that was six-zero at half-time and two sin bins and ultimately for 37, 38 minutes we were 7-5 down on the scoreboard and could realistically been level at seven-all.

“Until that 37th, 38th minute, that was the state of the game and then Wales scored a great try. But what I sensed at half time was calm, composed, great leadership from Jamie and determination to find a way in the second half.

“We were well aware of what the situation was in that first half… well aware it was six-nil penalty count half-time and there were two yellow cards to zero at half-time – and we only conceded one penalty in the second half.

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“We conceded eight penalties last week and seven penalties this week which was the targets we discussed. Maro Itoje set the target this week, set the target of seven and the players achieved it.

“For some reason, they liked to make it tricky by going six in the first half and one in the second, but they found a way.”

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