Wales v England: Gareth Anscombe out to banish Twickenham TMO pain of 2018

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Sport Wales
Gareth Anscombe (left) appears to touch the ball down despite pressure from Anthony Watson
Gareth Anscombe (left) was denied a try against England in 2018 despite appearing to touch down ahead of Anthony Watson
Six Nations: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 23 February Kick-off: 16:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One, S4C, BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Gareth Anscombe has moved on - as has his blossoming international career - but he still finds himself getting asked about a try that never was.

That is because this particular disallowed score came during last year's Six Nations match against England at Twickenham.

As the hosts led 12-0 in the first half, Anscombe latched on to Rhys Patchell's kick ahead and appeared to beat Anthony Watson to the ball, touching down for what looked like Wales' lifeline back into the match.

Referee Jerome Garces checked with television match official Glenn Newman and the replay seemed to confirm what Anscombe and his team-mates had been celebrating: a try for Wales.

But to their horror, the try was not given and England went on to win 12-6.

Wales coach Warren Gatland described the decision as a "terrible mistake" and, such was the uproar, even World Rugby waded in to confirm it was the incorrect call.

Does it still rankle?

"Not really," Anscombe says.

Did he ground it?

"Yeah," he responds, quick as a flash.

"It was frustrating in the sense that it would definitely have changed the game. But as I said back then there were no guarantees that that try would have given us the victory but it would have changed things.

"From a personal point of view it was a tad disappointing because I still haven't scored for Wales so it would have been nice to have been given that.

"If I get one this week it will more than make up for that one."

No wonder. Fixtures do not come much bigger than Wales' match against their neighbours and arch rivals, England, on Saturday.

There is a potential Grand Slam at stake as the only two unbeaten teams in this year's Six Nations each aim for a third win from their opening three matches.

It is a fillip for Anscombe therefore to get the nod ahead of Dan Biggar to start at fly-half for Wales at the Principality Stadium.

Anscombe started at full-back for last year's defeat against England at Twickenham but, since then, he has established himself in Wales' 10 jersey.

The 27-year-old impressed during the autumn clean sweep earlier this season and, although he has not yet scaled the same heights during this Six Nations campaign, Anscombe seems more secure of his starting place at fly-half than ever before.

Gareth Anscombe
Gareth Anscombe started in Wales' opening 2019 Six Nations win over France and came on during the victory in Italy

"Obviously it's a big game. I suppose the selectors could have gone a handful of ways so I am really pleased and excited for the opportunity," he says.

"I feel fairly settled within the camp and the squad and I think that's pretty important. I've been in and out a little bit - probably more than I'd like to have been - but at the same time we have three or four pretty gifted 10s that have different strengths and weaknesses to myself.

"From the selectors' point of view they are spoiled for choice but I guess it's down to one of us to really grab the bull by the horns and try to dominate that role as best we can.

"I suppose if we get a victory on Saturday it goes a long way to trying to cement myself. I had a fairly successful autumn but you're only as good as your last game so I'm looking to improve from the French performance and the Italy performance."

Since time immemorial, Welsh rugby has been fixated by the debate about who should occupy the 10 jersey for the national team.

Like all of his peers and predecessors at fly-half, Anscombe has had his performances forensically scrutinised by pundits, coaches and fans, be that at the game or watching at home and voicing their opinions on social media.

The Cardiff Blues man knows this comes with the territory of being an international player, taking it all - positive or negative - in his stride.

"It seems to be a hot topical debate for the Welsh public and media at the moment. It certainly is one that people like debating about," Anscombe says with a knowing smile.

"The good thing with us in camp is that myself, Biggs [Dan Biggar], Patch [Rhys Patchell] and Jarrod [Evans]all get along really well. There's genuinely a lot of trust, a lot of respect between each other.

"Obviously we've all got different strengths and weaknesses. I guess I have been given the chance to represent us as a whole this week. I want to make sure I do my job well and make them proud too."

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