England overturned a 16-8 half-time deficit to beat Wales 21-16 on Friday, reports JON CARDINELLI.
What a massive result, not only in the context of the Six Nations, but in the context of the coming World Cup.
With the result at the Millennium Stadium, England have scored a big away win in their first game of the 2015 Six Nations tournament. The result is also significant given England and Wales will feature in the same pool at the World Cup this September. In every sense, it's advantage England.
Wales were the better side in the first half, scoring a try through Rhys Webb inside the first two minutes. Leigh Halfpenny kicked well for goal and Dan Biggar nailed a drop goal right before the break. But an eight-point lead flattered the hosts, as they'd been outfoxed by England at the set pieces.
England lifted the tempo in the second stanza, and were more physical at the collisions and breakdowns. Luther Burrell scored an important try after the break, giving the visitors hope. They continued to target Wales, particularly at the scrum, and started to obtain some momentum at the tackle.
They should've had seven points when James Haskell charged towards the tryline in the 60th minute. Haskell was tackled and rebounded off the post, and England failed to score from the subsequent phase. Fortunately for England, French referee Jérôme Garcès sent Alex Cuthbert to the sin bin, and George Ford kicked the penalty which took England into the lead.
They failed to add to the tally during Cuthbert's absence, and should've scored in the 75th minute, but were denied when the TMO revealed that Nick Easter had taken out a defender off the ball.
Wales were awarded the penalty after that transgression, and booted the ball up-field. Their attempts to gain ground were eventually thwarted when Billy Twelvetrees made a momentum-stalling, and game-winning, steal at the breakdown.
Ford took his time with the penalty attempt, and was successful. Wales failed to collect the ball from the kick-off, and thus relinquished their chances of a last-gasp victory. England hung onto the ball, and a deserved win.
Wales – Try: Rhys Webb. Conversion: Leigh Halfpenny. Penalties: Halfpenny (2). Drop goal: Dan Biggar.
England – Tries: Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph. Conversion: George Ford. Penalties: Ford (3).
Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn-Jones, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Subs: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Aaron Jarvis, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Liam Williams.
England – 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Jonny May, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 James Haskell, 5 George Kruis, 4 Dave Attwood, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Subs: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Tom Croft, 20 Nick Easter, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.
Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images