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Six Nations: England edges Wales 16-14

Six Nations: England edges Wales 16-14
Six Nations: England edges Wales 16-14


England's George Ford kicks a penalty during the Six Nations rugby union match between England and Wales at Twickenham stadium in London, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024.

England overturned a nine-point half-time deficit as they beat Wales 16-14 at Twickenham on Saturday, February 10, 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 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.

England fielded an unchanged starting side following last week’s narrow 27-24 win away to Italy – their first match since finishing third at last year’s World Cup. But Wales coach Warren Gatland made seven changes to his run-on 15 after his side had almost won against the Scots from 27-0 down. Powerhouse centre George North returned from injury and fly-half Ioan Lloyd was given a first Test start, with Gatland changing his entire front row as well.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Wales greats JPR Williams and Barry John, who both died recently, as well as former England captain Mike Weston.

England dominated early on, with Ford and wing Elliot Daly producing several probing kicks. But England could not turn their pressure into points, with centre Henry Slade knocking on just five metres out from Wales’ try-line.

England’s failure to score was compounded when they were reduced to 14 men in the 12th minute after lock Ollie Chessum was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Wales prop Keiron Assiratti. Instead it was Wales who took the lead with a 17th-minute penalty try. 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.

England's Ethan Roots, center, brings down a Welsh rolling maul to give away a penalty try during the Six Nations rugby union match between England and Wales at Twickenham stadium in London, Saturday,Feb. 10, 2024. England's Ethan Roots, center, brings down a Welsh rolling maul to give away a penalty try during the Six Nations rugby union match between England and Wales at Twickenham stadium in London, Saturday,Feb. 10, 2024.

Minutes later, however, 13-man England hit back when Earl broke off the back of a scrum and powered through the challenges of Mann, Lloyd and Cameron Winnett. But what should have been a routine conversion for Ford ended with his kick charged down by Dyer.

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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 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.

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 evenutally 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.

Read more Six Nations: France beats Scotland 20-16 after late refereeing drama

Le Monde with AFP



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