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Second-half comeback sees unconvincing England edge past Wales

By PA
Dan Cole of England embraces Maro Itoje as they celebrate after defeating Wales during the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on February 10, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England’s ambition of making a fresh start on their return to Twickenham failed to produce the hoped for fireworks but they at least had the resilience to dig out a 16-14 victory over Wales.

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For the first time in Guinness Six Nations history, Warren Gatland’s team led at the interval in their great rival’s stronghold after storming 14-5 ahead through a penalty try and Alex Mann touch down.

But the favourites hit back when Fraser Dingwall went over in the left corner before George Ford stepped up to land the decisive penalty in the 72nd minute, rewarding a more polished second half.

Having finished third at last autumn’s World Cup, England saw their first outing at Twickenham since rebuilding their team as an opportunity to reconnect with fans, but this scruffy afternoon was too close for comfort.

Championship history was made when Hollie Davidson became the first female member of an officiating team for a men’s match – and what the hosts would have given for her assured performance on the sideline.

Match Summary

2
Penalty Goals
0
2
Tries
2
0
Conversions
1
0
Drop Goals
0
73
Carries
120
5
Line Breaks
4
14
Turnovers Lost
13
4
Turnovers Won
4

Wales must come to terms with an eighth successive defeat at Twickenham dating back to 2015 and their inability to score a point in the second half, but despite the outcome there was enough on display to encourage Gatland.

From the moment Freddie Steward carved through the visiting defence in the opening seconds, it appeared as though Wales were in for a long afternoon.

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Only timely intervention from Rio Dyer thwarted England in the right corner, Elliot Daly raced clear and a crash ball intended for Henry Slade close to the whitewash just failed to find its target as the the assault continued.

Yet for all the early dominance, points proved elusive and then the tide turned when Ollie Chessum was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle before a penalty try was awarded to Wales.

Ethan Roots was singled out by referee James Doleman for bringing down the maul and as a result was shown a yellow card, reducing England to 13 players for five minutes.

Remarkably, the hosts hit back immediately when Ben Earl powered over from the base of a scrum, breaking four tackles before touching down with an outstretched arm.

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A dramatic opening quarter ended with George Ford failing to take the conversion when Wales chased down the kick, even though England’s fly-half had yet to start his run up.

Ford was bemused that Doleman found in the visitors’ favour and England then had to steel themselves for a lengthy period of defence, although there was a lack of cutting edge to really trouble them.

Daly and Slade kicked long to relieve the pressure on Steve Borthwick’s men, who were struggling to escape their half, but there was no stopping Wales when their attack clicked into gear on the cusp of half-time.

Six Nations

P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
England
2
2
0
0
8
2
Ireland
1
1
0
0
5
3
Scotland
2
1
1
0
5
4
France
2
1
1
0
4
5
Wales
2
0
2
0
3
6
Italy
1
0
1
0
1

Josh Adams launched the move but the key moment came when the brilliant Tommy Reffell took an inside ball which he then slipped out of the tackle, allowing Tomos Williams to gather and send Alex Mann over.

England emerged for the second half with greater purpose and Daly almost went over in the left corner, but soon after Ford landed a penalty.

A defensive lapse by Daly waved Wales through and they almost scored, but successive scrum penalties settled the home team, with the second providing the platform to engineer their second try.

Once the forwards had weakened the red wall with carry after carry, the ball was swept left where an unmarked Dingwall was able to cross.

And the tide turned when Mason Grady was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on and up stepped Ford to kick England ahead for the first time, consigning Wales to defeat.

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Comments

12 Comments
A
Anthony 139 days ago

Fin
Your comments about the control Ford had on the game would be interesting to hear.
Bloody useless is the general punditry comments so yours will be fun to hear.
Russell gave him a lesson in how to run the game and Ford just wilted into the ether and was taken off . Only after giving head high passes , or in front or just bloody pointless ones.
Borethwick is really on borrowed time or should be. This is just pathetic .
How many times can the excuse we are getting better be used.
Either Smith from now on and and Ford should be consigned to the ex England list.

A
Anthony 147 days ago

Fin .
We will have to agree to disagree.
To me and many others Ford is very limited and plain ordinary.
A top team has to have game changers and Ford has never been that . Argentina excepted That was with his boot too .
When it becomes all too apparent he cannot attack and break the line to tbeat op defences he will be dropped .
Time will tell. . Talk again then .

A
Anthony 151 days ago

fin .
I appreciate not everyone has the same liking of sports people whatever their sport, but I have watched rugby since the 1970,s from Barry John ,to Wilkinson, to the latterday pretenders. At Leicester, Northants, Worcs, Wasps, Harlequins, Stourbridge and Bridgnorth ..Back in the day i had 2 debentures at Twickenham . right on the halfwayline. Far from watching highlights I have been there in the flesh .
Can you imagine Fin Russell, Johnny Sexton, or anyone , after 90 odd caps being suggested by ex players they should take more decisive control of the game . This is just pathetic . Just look at the Irish No 10 who has taken over from Sexton . He attacks the line , makes breaks , takes the hit and off loads. Nor does he have 90 odd caps to have learnt to try.
This is precisely why England keep failing to do better. Its just not in Ford to attempt such things.
You will see a flying England with a change at 10 . At present the back line is hamstrung to the pedestrian tactics and lack of adventure .

A
Anthony 152 days ago

Fin .
Think you must be thinking of another Marcus Smith .
The one i am talking about , in the 2022 six nations , started against Scotland scoring points and to everyones surprise , came off after 60 mins and England fell apart.
He won man of the match in the next 2 consecutive games against Italy and Wales. Scoring tries in both . All three games without the interferences of the Farrell,/ Ford mafia as both injured .
If that is not going well for him he should give up .
All this at 22 years of age.
Ford now 30 and was nowhere near as good as Marcus at that age. Yes played for England at same age but nowhere near as memorable

A
Anthony 153 days ago

Fin .
I agree . That was a very good kick , but one kick does not a summer make.
It needs someone who is going to do things to keep the opposition guessing . The back line are very obvious and get picked off . Ford did well in the second half by going back to type and helped pull England through. However. This was against a very young and inexperienced Wales and we only just won .
How will he cope when Ireland come at him . That is if Smith is not thrown in to the lions den against the best team in the world at present.

A
Anthony 154 days ago

Fin .
Yes . You are right.
Ford was very integral to it. Thats why everyone is saying England failed to impress AGAIN . Skin of the teeth . Have to do a lot better was Lawrences verdict .
This fella has 90 odd caps and he is trying to learn to run an attacking back line .
At some point the penny will drop with Borthwick when he works out what and who is stopping England from developing .
You cant teach an old dog new tricks. Get the youngsters in who arent frightened to fail .and to whom it comes naturally and not have to learn how to do it .

A
Anthony 154 days ago

Well .
It was better but not much. Ford played better too but where oh where are the incisive breaks that destroy the opposition .
Englands attack just about does enough .
Johnny wilko said afterwards we go backwards then start to sort the problem . Why not start on a higher plain and go on from there. We can all see that. I cant wait to see either Smith given the chance to do better than this mediocre attack .

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