England fell behind early in the second period in Cardiff, but an instant response from Kyle Sinckler sent them on their way to a deserved 20-10 victory in the Guinness Six Nations.

“The response from the players after Wales scored an interception attempt early in the second half was magnificent,” head coach Borthwick said.

“Wales took the game to a kicking contest and it turned into a real pressing battle. But the players adapted very well to win that battle of pressure.

“The two halves were very different, but that tells me a lot about our players. How smart and collected they are on the field, you could see the response to the attempt.

“They had those setbacks in Cardiff before and they didn’t respond, so it shows how the team is growing with the leadership of Owen (Farrell).”

England led a tense match 8–3 at half time with winger Anthony Watson’s try into the corner giving them a slim lead.

But Louis Rees-Zammit’s interception score gave Wales hope that they could end a tumultuous week on a high.

The Wales players had threatened a strike due to various off-field problems before a peace deal was negotiated on Wednesday.

Ollie Lawrence celebrates his attempt
Ollie Lawrence’s last try sealed victory for England (David Davies/PA)

England, however, regained control thanks to Sinckler’s goal and a late third try from Ollie Lawrence ensured Borthwick’s men a second win in three Championship games.

Borthwick said: “What we saw in the first half was an improvement in our ability to move the ball to the edge. You saw the speed of the ball improve and we scored a very well worked test.

“I’m delighted for the England players and fans, there was a good contingent there.

“They helped the team a lot. Players showed great stamina and spirit and turned things around tactically within the game. They kept fighting.

“I liked that it was an incredible Test Match. It’s a difficult time for rugby in so many different ways right now and what those Welsh players have been through the last few weeks and to put on a performance like that, they deserve incredible respect for it.”

It marks the first time in 16 years that Wales, already beaten by Ireland and Scotland, have been beaten in their opening three Six Nations matches, with a potential decider against Italy looming in Rome on March 11.

In the context of the off-field issues, head coach Warren Gatland said: “We weren’t making any excuses for what happened in the week.

“Preparing for an England-Wales match is not difficult. The week was challenging, we realize and understand that, but we weren’t making excuses.”

Asked if the game in Italy is more important than ever, Gatland said: “The last thing you want to do is get the wooden spoon. That has to be our approach from there.

“Part of this Six Nations is about us thinking about the next six or seven months. We have older players still keeping their hands up and younger players who need some time.

“We don’t have that group in the middle that has 30 or 40 caps. We have to marry both of us and start thinking about that in the future.

“Some of those young people need to spend more time together. You can’t train experience.”


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