Planet Rugby

England thrill to crush Wales

09th March 2014 16:47

Share:

England Wales Six Nations Danny Care

Fast start: Danny Care

England put last year's humbling in Cardiff to rest with an assured performance in their 29-18 victory over Wales at Twickenham on Sunday.

First-half tries from Danny Care and Luther Burrell gave England the early advantage and they never looked back, keeping the lead throughout as Owen Farrell and Leigh Halfpenny fought each other in a world-class kicking duel.

There is no longer any doubt though; Wales are not the best team in Europe anymore. Bar their breakdown prowess, which was exceptional, crucial failures at key times in the scrum, line-out and defence brought the two-time champions title defence to an end.

Had it not been for soft penalties conceded by England in the opening 40 then the scoreline would have read even less in Wales' favour. Against Scotland there is now an opportunity for Warren Gatland to experiment.

For England it was all about progress. Even had they lost, which they should never have done based on their performance in the first-half, there were enough encouraging moments to keep believing that they are still building towards next year.

The likes of Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes and Owen Farrell have all stepped up a level and in doing so secured England's first Triple Crown since 2003.

England's opening break came from the most unlikely of sources; David Wilson cantering into space and laying the platform for Care to eventually catch Wales off guard with a trademark tap penalty.

Starting the match at a million miles an hour had Wales napping, but England's ambition then became over-exuberance. Attempting to play out of their own 22, Wales won a penalty at the breakdown for Halfpenny to slot over from out on the right.

Wales were nervy. The small parts of their game, tiny knock-ons included, were a hindrance.

Jonathan Davies' pass to George North went just behind him - had it gone to hand then England would have been in trouble. North still had a chance with a grubber only to watch it roll dead.

It was England's turn now to win a penalty at the scrum, Richard Hibbard popping up to allow Farrell to restore the home side's seven-point advantage.

Jonny May then embarked on one of his cross-field runs. Even the Gloucester wing admits he doesn't always know where his breaks will take him, but when isolated over on the far side - after some brilliant tracking defence from Jamie Roberts - Wales won the penalty at the breakdown for Halfpenny to kick his second three-pointer.

England's attack however kept Wales working, the likes of Sam Warburton racking up tackles but a discrepancy was never far away. Farrell added another penalty to restore that seven-point gap - 13-6 to England coming up to the half hour.

There was sparkle from Wales thanks to a burst from Roberts into space, but the breakdown remained their main source of points. Nowell ran into the same lair that scuppered May moments earlier, Wales too savvy in that area to let a chance slip as another penalty followed from Halfpenny. He never looked like missing.

Billy Twelvetrees then displayed a similarly perfect touch with the boot. Farrell's kick had pinned Wales back into a corner and when Warburton failed to reel in the ball at the line-out, England pounced. The grubber from Twelvetrees bounced up kindly for Burrell to score his third try in four games.

Halfpenny still couldn't miss, adding two more penalties before half-time arrived to leave Wales five points adrift at the break.

England though now controlled the scrum. Consecutive penalties pushed the hosts from within their 22 to a 30-metre shot at goal for Farrell which put England 23-15 ahead.

Wales were chasing, and not very well. First, a horrendous kick from Roberts killed an overlap on the outside from which Wales should have scored. Then they lost Gethin Jenkins to the bin on his 104th cap, something referee Romain Poite looked to have been itching to do for some time.

Halfpenny countered Farrell's fourth penalty with his seventh, but Wales were again penalised for Farrell to keep the champions at arm's length at 29-18.

It took Wales until the 61st minute to replace struggling Rhys Priestland. His game management paled sorely in comparison to that of Farrell, who continually appeared to thread kicks into the corners.

With the likes of Mike Phillips, Dan Biggar and Paul James now on Wales had a jolt of intensity, a reminder for England that the job was not yet done.

A break from turnover ball deep in England's half nearly ended in a second try for Burrell, Halfpenny doing enough to keep him out with a try-saving tackle that saw him depart with an injury.

There was no time though for Wales to respond. Instead an ecstatic Twickenham crowd savoured the closing minutes, with the side now heading to Rome hoping for a favour off France and with their title hopes still alive. For Wales, there are more questions than answers.

Man of the Match: With a barn-storming afternoon filled with huge tackles and some impressive carries, Courtney Lawes stood taller than anyone else. This though was a team effort.

Moment of the Match: The fastest start. England flew out of the blocks and with Wales bewildered, Danny Care made them pay to give them the lead.

Villian of the Match: Refereeing interpretations at the scrum are always up for debate but after Gethin Jenkins had already been warned, he should either have been brought off or adjusted. From the moment he went to the bin the result was settled.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries: Care, Burrell
Cons: Farrell 2
Pens: Farrell 5

For Wales:
Pens: Halfpenny 6
Yellow Card: Jenkins

England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Billy Twelvetrees, 11 Jonny May, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Danny Care, 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 David Wilson, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 David Attwood, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 George Ford, 23 Alex Goode

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jon Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Jake Ball, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Andrew Coombs, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Liam Williams

Referee: Romain Poite (Fra)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Aus), Lourens van der Merwe (RSA)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ire)

by Ben Coles
@bencoles_

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Preview
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs UlsterMunster vs Ulster Preview
Cardiff Blues vs TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Preview
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821