Wales took advantage of England’s inability to use possession in a match that could decide the whole 6 Nations
England’s hopes to win the Grand Slam in the 2019 6 Nations were crushed by fellow Grand Slam hopefuls Wales in a scrappy Test at the Principality Stadium. Wales sealed a record-breaking 12th consecutive victory as they came from behind to win 21-13.
Having beaten Ireland 32-20 at the Aviva Stadium and demolished France 44-8, England were favourites heading into the Test. With Wales also sporting a 2-0 lead so far in the tournament, it felt as though the whole Championship rested on this game.
Eddie Jones’ side went into half time 10-3 up thanks to flanker Tom Curry’s first try for England. Up until that point, Wales had been defending resiliently however a bit of miscommunication cost them dearly. The Welsh regrouped during the break and came out in the second half on a mission to retake control of the game, and that they did.
Second row Cory Hill managed to put the home side into the lead 13 minutes from time after a gruelling series of drives. England looked lost while in possession often kicking after one or two phases and seemingly the only way to stay in contention was a penalty or drop goal to level the score at 16-16.
Any hopes of getting a draw were dashed as Josh Adams caught a Dan Biggar cross-field kick to secure the win with another try. Biggar missed the conversion but the damage was already done.
If England are to lift the 6 Nations trophy they will need a bit of luck. With only Scotland and Italy left to play, arguably the two easiest teams, they should end with a 4-1 record. Wales, on the other hand, have Ireland to play last, a defeat there would give Jones’ side the Championship due to their bonus points.
After the game England captain, Owen Farrell said: “we didn’t really get a foothold in the last 30 minutes of the game. We did well in the first half and we had a good go at the start of the second, but then we couldn’t get back that momentum.”
“We made a few errors and they did what they did well. We couldn’t get out of our half and they managed to build a lot of pressure. It will feel a lot worse than it should now but we will look back on it and learn from what we need to.”
Three tries in the final 20 minutes were needed for Eddie Jones’ side to avoid an upset in front of a home crowd.
England scored three tries in the final 20 minutes at Twickenham to beat a Japanese side that is getting better with every passing fixture. The 35-15 scoreline may deceive fans into thinking that this was a routine victory but the reality was very different with Eddie Jones’ team going into halftime 15-10 down.
Ten months out from the World Cup, hosted in Japan, the Cherry Blossoms showed that they are not far from the quality of the world’s best by playing some fantastic attacking rugby. Ryoto Nakamura scored the game’s opening try in the 22nd minute with captain Michael Leitch extending their lead nine minutes later.
With England struggling to find a way through the Japanese defence in the first half Jones needed to shake up his side if they wanted to avoid an upset. It took until the 56th minute for a George Ford penalty to really get the English firing on all cylinders.
Debut international tries came for Mark Wilson and Joe Cokansiga as well as another penalty for Ford and suddenly England were 30-15 up. A collective sigh of relief was let out around the 81,151 mostly English crowd. Substitute Dylan Hartley sealed the victory four minutes from full time but the game exposed flaws that will need to be corrected before the team head to Japan next September.
After the game, Japan’s head coach Jamie Joseph said “We gave sloppy penalties away and allowed England back in which was a little bit disappointing, but I’m proud of the players all the same. Our mentality is slowly changing, we’re starting to believe that we can take these bigger teams on and that’s going to help us next year.”
England’s final Autumn International is against Australia on Saturday 24th November. Australia has had a difficult set of fixtures with losses to both New Zealand and Wales before a comfortable win against Italy. The last five meetings between the two sides have been England victories and England will be hoping to extend that unbeaten run.