Six Nations: England 12-6 Wales

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer at Twickenham
Six Nations: England v Wales
England (12) 12
Tries: May 2 Cons: Farrell
Wales (3) 6
Pens: Patchell, Anscombe

A pair of first-half tries from Jonny May made it two Six Nations wins from two for England as they stretched their unbeaten home run to 15 games.

In wintry conditions at Twickenham May's predatory finishing combined with resolute defence and a canny kicking game held Wales at arm's length despite a tense finale.

Wales kept Eddie Jones' men scoreless in the second half as they clawed their way back into the game and Gareth Anscombe's late penalty put them within a converted try of the hosts, but handling errors and debatable decisions at key moments hurt their chances.

The visitors will also question the first-half decision by the television match official that denied Anscombe a try when he thought he had been the first player to get a hand to a chip into the England in-goal area.

England, who next face Scotland at Murrayfield, have now won 25 of their past 26 games and remain on target for a third championship title in three years.

Wales have won just one of their past six away matches in this tournament, the optimism engendered by their opening-day win disappearing against a white-shirted wall.

May day comes early for England

In freezing, wet conditions the contest exploded into life in the third minute, Anthony Watson beating Rhys Patchell to Danny Care's steepling box-kick, Owen Farrell aiming a perfectly judged grubber-kick deep into Welsh territory and May's pace taking him on to the loose ball and sliding across the line.

Farrell missed the conversion but then Patchell, on kicking duties after the late withdrawal of the injured Leigh Halfpenny, dragged a penalty of his own marginally left.

The pace barely dropped. England carried the ball into the Welsh 22 and worked phase after phase with pace and precision until Farrell spotted an overlap left.

Joe Launchbury took the miss-pass above his head, charged for the corner then conjured up a brilliant off-load - with Patchell and Josh Adams wrapped around him - to find May on his inside, with Farrell converting to make it 12-0.

The pace was relentless, the intensity everything this fixture always promises. Halfpenny's replacement Anscombe was unfortunate to have what looked like a try ruled out when the television match official ruled he had not conclusively beaten Watson to touch down a loose ball over the England line.

Patchell's penalty got Wales on the board as they finally tested an obdurate English defence before a scrap between Farrell and Gareth Davies escalated into a 10-man melee.

But England were worth their 12-3 half-time lead, their greater precision and upper hand in the aerial battle the difference in a breathless contest.

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones faces of with several England players
When tempers flared Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones was quite happy to take England on single-handedly

Wales close in but not enough

Wales began the second half with plenty of possession but were struggling to get out of their half until Aaron Shingler rampaged away, the one-time Glamorgan fast bowler kicking ahead and Farrell having to sprint to his side's rescue.

England came back, Maro Itoje, Launchbury and Chris Robshaw making big carries to create half-openings for Jonathan Joseph and Watson's replacement Jack Nowell.

Patchell's composure had been questioned by Jones before the match and when he coughed up possession it allowed England to mount another attack that took Mike Brown close down the right.

Warren Gatland had seen enough, and brought George North on with Anscombe switching to fly-half and Adams moving to full-back.

Wales were struggling to make meaningful headway against the England defence, with Farrell, Danny Care and George Ford happy to kick for territory.

And when a glorious Wales chance did come, sweet interplay down the left setting Scott Williams free, the match-winner from 2012 tried to slide in from four metres out but was instead dragged into touch by replacement Sam Underhill with men free inside him.

Errors continued to dog the men in red, knock-ons from Shingler and Samson Lee denting their momentum as they fought to drag themselves to within a single score.

Jones threw on Ben Te'o and Richard Wigglesworth and England slowly began to squeeze the life from the game, even though they passed up the chance to take a drop goal and make the match safe.

Anscombe's late penalty gave Wales hope but once again they could not dent the English line, and the home crowd roared with relief when Farrell kicked the ball dead after frantic Welsh attacks were blunted once more.

Man of the match - Mike Brown

Mike Brown is tackled by Wales' Ross Moriarty
Excellent under the high ball, the England full-back was a rock in defence and effective running the ball back

What they said - 'Jones' words had an effect on Patchell'

Ex-England scrum-half Matt Dawson: "It was a cracking game, a really good England-Wales Test match. The difference between the sides was that England didn't make mistakes and were very disciplined.

"Is that a good enough performance to build on to go towards a Grand Slam though? I'm not sure."

Dawson on Jones' Patchell verdict: "As much as Eddie Jones got a lot of stick this week for questioning Rhys Patchell, it had an effect on him today without a shadow of a doubt.

"He was trying too hard. He didn't have his best game and he wasn't lighting it up like last week. It says to me that it probably was niggling away in his head."

Ex-Wales captain Martyn Williams: "It was a gutsy effort from Wales against a class England team. They lost the aerial battle in the first half which ultimately cost them, but the players can hold their heads high."

Six Nations table

What the coaches said - 'TMO's made a terrible mistake'

Wales coach Warren Gatland: "The thing I am disappointed about, having looked pretty closely at the disallowed try, Gareth Anscombe definitely got downward pressure and why that's not been given is a massive moment in the game.

"The TMO has one big decision to make and unfortunately he's made a terrible mistake.

"England are a quality side, there's no doubt about that, and when you play the best teams you've got to take your chances or get a little bit of luck or a couple of decisions, and a few of those things went against us."

England boss Eddie Jones: "I'm sure Wales will claim they were unlucky, and maybe they were, but we have a TMO up there that makes the decision. I don't make the decision, the TMO does.

"It was a tough old game, full credit to Wales, they played really well. We're happy to get the win and I think Wales deserve a lot of credit for their performance."

What does law about grounding say?
A try is scored "by pressing down on the ball with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player's body from waist to neck".
World Rugby law 21.1 b
Six Nations 2018: We must respect the TMO's decision - Eddie Jones

Team details

England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, May; Ford, Care; Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Simmonds.

Replacements: Nowell for Watson (45), Te'o for Ford (68), Wigglesworth for Care (65), George for Hartley (1 for HIA, 51 permanent), Williams for Cole (65), Kruis for Launchbury (68), Underhill for Simmonds (41). Hepburn for Vunipola (77)

Wales: Anscombe; Adams, S Williams, Parkes, S Evans; Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones, Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.

Replacements: North for Patchell (56), A Davies for G Davies (66), W Jones for R Evans (58), Dee for Owens (65), Francis for Lee (58), B Davies for Hill (74), Tipuric for Moriarty (65).


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