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Wales second-half show sinks England in Cardiff

Wales second-half show sinks England in Cardiff

Wales celebrate against England

Tries from Gareth Davies and George North helped a youthful Wales side to a 20-9 victory over England in Cardiff.

Two of Wales’ most experienced stars and England’s familiar foes saw Warren Gatland’s side end a four-game losing streak at Principality Stadium.

England dominated prior to the break but were unable to cross the whitewash as Wales limited their visitors to just three Marcus Smith penalties, which were largely cancelled out by two from centurion Leigh Halfpenny.

But the hosts took control after the break and scored a pair of excellent scores courtesy of Davies and North to leave Steve Borthwick with plenty to ponder before he names his World Cup squad on Monday.

Ryan Elias was among the returning names to a Wales team sheet which included four debutants, but the hooker lasted just six minutes on his first international start of 2023, hobbling off with a suspected calf issue.

A Smith penalty then capped a frustrating start for Gatland’s charges, and it could have been worse had England not coughed up possession on a couple of occasions in promising areas.

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Smith added another three-pointer before Wales fought back through two strikes from Halfpenny, with the full-back on the board early on the day he became the ninth Welshman to reach 100 caps.

England certainly had the greater territory throughout the first half and will surely rue their profligacy.

Max Malins was the first to go close with his charge for the line halted at the last, before George North denied Alex Dombrandt a walk-in try on the other flank after intercepting Joe Cokanasiga’s pass.

England did, however, edge ahead on the stroke of half time, as Smith knocked over his third penalty after a collapsed scrum in front of the posts.

The wait for a try was finally broken on 47 minutes and it was certainly worth the wait from a Welsh perspective.

Fly-half Sam Costelow’s cross-kick found Aaron Wainwright and the No.8 held off Danny Care in a physical mismatch before offloading to fellow back-rower Jac Morgan.

Morgan, on his first start as captain, teased Cokanasiga before evading replacement Jonny Hill and feeding scrum-half Davies for a simple finish at the end of a delightful move.

Wales’ accuracy in England’s 22 ultimately proved the difference between the sides, with North next to hold his nerve, dancing around Jack van Poortvliet to score on his 114th cap following a deft grubber from another Wales veteran, Dan Biggar.

A third Wales try very nearly followed shortly after but replacement centre Mason Grady, by this stage playing blindside flanker, was hauled into touch by Ellis Genge.

England continued to be the masters of their own downfall, spilling possession on halfway to take their tally of handling errors to 14 on the 65-minute mark, with the Welsh tally standing at just two.

England were unable to rally late on, with Wales very nearly putting the seal on a pleasing afternoon but for Louis Rees-Zammit’s sensational chip, chase and finish judged to have ended with a knock on.

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