Wales produced a strong defensive display which was central in their 19-9 victory over England in Cardiff.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland made a strong statement following his team’s poor showing in a 23-19 defeat to England in London last weekend. The Kiwi said he would rule out Wales’ World Cup hopes if they couldn’t beat England in their own backyard. And his players stepped up on this occasion.
England had the territorial advantage at the Millennium Stadium, but they could show nothing for it as they scored no points after 11 visits to the hosts’ red zone. What will concern Martin Johnson even more is that his team had a one-man advantage for 20 minutes in the second half after outside centre Jamie Roberts and scrumhalf Mike Phillips were sent to the sin bin for infringements at the breakdown.
While the visitors will be disappointed with a dire attacking effort, Wales must be credited for their defence. They made over 120 tackles and only missed four. The Welsh forwards also out-muscled their English counterparts up front for most parts of the match while they also forced numerous turnovers at the breakdown. England’s dominance at the scrums and lineouts created some momentum, but an errant display, especially at the death, allowed Wales to steal the ascendancy and seal the victory in the last quarter.
Pivots Toby Flood and Rhys Priestland traded penalties for a 6-6 scoreline at the break. England should’ve been ahead, but they turned down four kickable penlaties to pursue the try.
Wales had a poor start to the second half after Roberts was sin binned in the opening minutes while Flood edged his team ahead from the resulting penalty. But it was all Wales for the rest of the half, with James Hook starring for his team with a converted try and two penalties to clinch the win.