England come from behind to edge Wales in Six Nations

“When you come to Twickenham you know it is going to be a physical battle and you have to match them, I don’t think we did that.”

England overturned a nine-point half-time deficit to beat Wales 16-14 at Twickenham on Saturday to make it two wins out of two this Six Nations.

The hosts, down to 13 men early on after two yellow cards, had been 14-5 behind at the break following a Wales penalty try and a try for Alex Mann either side of a score by England No 8 Ben Earl.

But a George Ford penalty and a try from centre Fraser Dingwall left England just a point adrift at 13-14.

Ford then landed another penalty to make it 16-14 with eight minutes left as England led for the first time in the match.

Committed defence allowed England to close out the game, with Wales left to rue some missed chances as they suffered an eighth successive defeat at Twickenham hot on the heels of their agonising 27-26 opening loss to Scotland in Cardiff.

“That was a proper Test match,” said man of the match Earl, part of an unchanged starting side following last week’s narrow 27-24 win away to Italy. “It came down to the fine margins, the ball was in play for a long time, the boys dug in and we are really pleased.

“We rode it out with 13 men to a certain degree in the first half. We have been speaking about an identity and we keep building that – we are really pleased.

“I guess the most exciting thing is we have not even scratched the surface. We rest up for a couple of days then get back to work.”

Missed opportunity

Wales skipper Dafydd Jenkins said his team were “absolutely gutted, that game was there for us to win and we didn’t take it”.

“When you come to Twickenham you know it is going to be a physical battle and you have to match them, I don’t think we did that,” he told ITV.

“I don’t think we can use being a young team as an excuse, if we are here, we are good enough. I think we’ve created the chances but we just weren’t accurate when finishing.”

England could not turn their early pressure into points, with centre Henry Slade knocking on just five metres out from Wales’ try-line.

Lock Ollie Chessum saw yellow for a high tackle on Wales prop Keiron Assiratti and it was Wales who took the lead with a 17th-minute penalty try.

Double yellow

To make matters worse for England, they lost a second player to the sin-bin in the process when flanker Ethan Roots was yellow-carded for pulling down a maul near his own line.

Minutes later, however, 13-man England hit back when Earl broke off the back of a scrum and powered through the challenges of Mann, Ioan Lloyd and Cameron Winnett.

But what should have been a routine conversion for Ford ended with his kick charged down by Rio Dyer.

Wales were now 7-5 ahead and they pulled further clear with a second try two minutes before the break.

England scrum-half Alex Mitchell’s careless volleyed kick clearance allowed Wales to regain possession.

Wales openside Tommy Reffell was in support and he found scrum-half Tomos Williams, whose clever inside ball allowed blindside flanker Mann, making his first Test start, to burst through the cover for a try after he scored as a replacement on debut against Scotland.

Lloyd converted and Wales led by nine points at the break.

England attacked from a line-out early in the second half but a cross-field move ended with Elliot Daly well-tackled into touch near Wales’ line by Dyer before Ford’s routine penalty cut the deficit.

Wales should have extended their lead but a fine counter-attack ended with Dyer knocking on in sight of a try.

Momentum at the scrum

England though were starting to gain an edge at the scrum and they won a penalty from the set-piece.

Ford kicked for an attacking line-out and the ball was eventually worked left to Dingwall, with the centre going in at the corner.

Ford couldn’t convert but Wales now led by just a point.

But it was Ford’s well-judged 50-22 kick that gave England an attacking line-out with 10 minutes left.

Wales replacement Mason Grady was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on and Ford landed the simple ensuing penalty from in front of the posts to edge England ahead with the last score of the game.