Wales late comeback stuns England

Date published: September 28 2015

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A resounding comeback from Wales helped them secure a 28-25 win over Rugby World Cup hosts England at Twickenham on Saturday.

Gareth Davies' spectacular try for Wales with ten minutes to go flipped the contest on its head after they had trailed for over 40 minutes. 

A kicking contest under high pressure was always expected and the two fly-halves duly obliged, Dan Biggar responding to the challenge with seven penalties, the last of which from the half-way line sealed a dramatic turnaround. Worries about Leigh Halfpenny's absence proved to be unnecessary.

Even losing both Scott Williams and Hallam Amos to serious injuries in the second half couldn't stop a spirited response against huge adversity from Warren Gatland's side. 

England's return to old-fashioned power was backed up by a dominant scrum, which won the approval throughout of referee Jérôme Garcès, but they squandered crucial territory in the second half.

A call from captain Chris Robshaw to kick for the corner with a few minutes left rather than attempt to tie the scores off the tee spectacularly backfired.

Jonny May's first-half finish in the corner exploited some poor Welsh defence and on a night where line breaks were at a premium, let alone tries, it looked for a long time to be the difference.

This felt more like a knockout game than a group clash based on the tension and sheer level of noise inside Twickenham, with both sides fully aware of how hard the road to the quarter-finals would be should they suffer a defeat and with a massive clash against Australia to come.

England now have to face that nightmare situation head on, but their failure to kill off a game where they were ahead for so long will be scrutinised.

Biggar struck first after Tom Youngs failed to roll away, the only points in a cagey opening ten minutes were England won the first battle at the scrum, but were penalised at the breakdown – two trends that would continue throughout.

More scrum dominance allowed Farrell to equalise before a nervous drop goal attempt from Biggar drifted wide, although it mattered little after converting his second penalty as England were once again caught out at the ruck.

Twickenham might have produced a chorus of boos for Biggar's attempt but they seemed to mind less when Farrell made good with a low drop goal effort, after England's attack had lost its shape, to make it 6-6.

Wales' scrum though was becoming a hinderance by conceding a third straight penalty, this time converted by Farrell to put England ahead for the first time. 

Finally the game opened up from England's lineout, a long loop from Anthony Watson off his wing giving the hosts an extra man and although his pass bobbled into the path of Mike Brown, England did well to recycle with Ben Youngs releasing May down the blindside to score. 

With Farrell's conversion, England suddenly led by ten points. Wales, falling short in the set-piece and held by England's defence, which pushed the limit of offside, were being kept quiet.

Biggar though had the final say before the break, adding a third penalty to make it 16-9 at half-time after Scott Williams reminded Sam Burgess who he was with an outstanding burst of speed.

A wobble from Biggar trying to control Farrell's tactical kick set England up for another attack right at the start of the second half, ending in a third penalty for Farrell, but not for the first time England coughed up a penalty for not rolling away at the breakdown to allow Biggar to close the gap at 19-12.

Continuing the tempo of the half Farrell and Biggar traded penalties once more, with Wales always just about within reach, before a sixth Biggar penalty and tackle-busting run from North suddenly kicked them into life to the sound of Hymns and Arias.

England's four-point lead was under threat but Wales' horrendous injury luck hit them hard again, first with the loss of Scott Williams on a stretcher, quickly followed by young winger Amos.

Every scrum continued to go England's way as Farrell converted a fifth penalty, stretching the home side's advantage to 25-18 with ten minutes to go.

Wales though hadn't read the script, spreading the ball wide to makeshift winger Lloyd Williams whose brilliant kick infield was first met by Gareth Davies to score under the posts, sending the majority of Twickenham into silence.

Biggar landed his long-range seventh penalty but England stlll had time. However rather than attempt a kickable penalty out wide in the Welsh 22, they went for the jugular with their maul and missed – a killer blow as Wales clung on. 

Gatland's side had raided Twickenham and kept their composure when it mattered, showing unbelievable character in the process.

Man of the Match: For his unnerving display off the kicking tee it has to be Dan Biggar, who rose to the challenge for Wales and kept them in the contest.

Moment of the Match: Trailing by seven with nearly ten minutes to go, the timing of Gareth Davies' try was monumental as Wales drew level.

Villain of the Match: Nothing nasty to report.

The scorers:

For England:

Tries: May

Cons: Farrell

Pens: Farrell 5

Drop Goal: Farrell

For Wales:

Tries: G Davies

Cons: Biggar

Pens: Biggar 7

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Brad Barritt, 12 Sam Burgess, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Geoff Parling, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 James Haskell, 21 Richard Wigglesworth, 22 George Ford, 23 Alex Goode

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Aaron Jarvis, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Alex Cuthbert

Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Romain Poite (France), Mathieu Raynal (France)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

by Ben Coles at Twickenham

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