Wales 21-13 England

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The Grand Slam is still on for Wales after Warren Gatland’s men secured another famous win over England, taking the current winning streak to a record breaking 12 games.

After switching up the side to face Italy, there were recalls for familiar faces in the form of Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Hadleigh Parkes and George North for this game, while Gareth Davies and Gareth Anscombe got the nod to start at half-back, and Cory Hill was named as the second lock.

Up to this point in the tournament England had certifiably kicked Ireland and France to death, and it was no different in the early exchanges of this game, but the execution was lacking slightly and the hosts developed a dominance in the air.

Wales tried to take advantage of their possession and territory, but with the visitors not committing to the breakdown it was difficult to work through the white wall and one-up runners were happily swallowed up and turned over.

Josh Navidi England 2
Josh Navidi carries through Owen Farrell and Kyle Sinckler

Eventually the deadlock was broken on the 17th minute, with Elliot Daly having missed an earlier harshly awarded penalty against Justin Tipuric, Owen Farrell kicked through the posts after a harshly awarded penalty against Tomas Francis in the scrum.

Gareth Anscombe quickly hit back with a penalty of his own, but set piece problems were Wales’ downfall again as the ball spilled loose from a maul inside our own half.

England pounced and pushed forwards until openside flanker Tom Curry was able to spot a big gap on the fringe of a breakdown and he simply jogged over the whitewash, Farrell converting easily.

All of a sudden Wales were chasing the game and mistakes crept into the attacking game, with Anscombe failing to execute a chip kick when looking at a three-on-two on the right wing, before Gareth Davies inexplicably spilled possession off the top of an attacking lineout.

Just before half-time the English secured an attacking lineout after Hadleigh Parkes was taken into touch inside his own 22, but some superb defensive mauling from Alun Wyn Jones prevented it coming to anything, and the score stayed at 3-10 with the teams heading for the sheds.

Gareth Anscombe England
The boot of Gareth Anscombe kept Wales in the game

A cagey opening 10 minutes of the second half saw much the same kicking battle as had dominated the first period, but eventually two excellent tactical cross-field kicks from Gareth Anscombe put England under pressure, they conceded the penalty and the fly-half kicked the goal with ease.

Another penalty followed five minutes later to make it a one-point game, and although England pushed back out in front with a penalty of their own won by the mercurial Tom Curry and kicked by Owen Farrell, that would be their last score of the game.

Turnover ball found it’s way to Gareth Davies who released Hadleigh Parkes for 60 metres down the right hand side, and Wales proceeded to pound the English defensive line for a huge 34 phases, eventually getting over the line through Cory Hill on a smart angle, Dan Biggar converting.

It was just a three-point lead but Wales dominated the crucial next five minutes before striking again as Dillon Lewis destroyed the England scrum and with a free play a superbly weighted Dan Biggar kick allowed Josh Adams to score an outstanding try, out-jumping Elliot Daly and reaching for the line.

Josh Adams England 2
Josh Adams touches down for the winning try

A magnificent second half performance that, in many ways, out England’ed England in terms of dominating the aerial battle and kicking game, taking them on up front and taking the try scoring opportunities when they were presented.

Difficult to pick out individuals when a team performance is that good, but one thing for sure is that this Welsh team are building towards something special now.

Few international teams would be able to work through the hesitant opening two rounds that Wales have experienced and then come good in such fashion against a strong England team, it is a testament to the squad that Warren Gatland has built and the buy-in from the players.

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