Rugby: England rally late again to extend Wales' Six Nations heartbreak at Twickenham

Ben Earl in action for England.
Ben Earl in action for England. Photo credit: Getty Images

England have fought back from 14-5 down to beat Wales 16-14 in a scruffy, but hugely physical Six Nations clash, extending a Welsh winless championship run at Twickenham going back to 2012 and making it two wins from two for the hosts.

For the first time at Twickenham this century, Wales led at the interval, after a penalty try and a nicely created second for flanker Alex Mann, with England on the board, via Ben Earl.

In a disjointed second half, England gradually gained control, closing the gap with a Ford penalty and Fraser Dingwall's try, before Ford landed the winning kick nine minutes from time.

It was not a great performance by England, who had won only three of their previous 10 games at Twickenham, but unlike the boos that rang round the ground when losing to Fiji in August, the crowd recognised the team's endeavour and noisily acclaimed the victory.

England, who came from 10-0 down to beat Italy last week, top the fledgling Six Nations standings after two wins - matching their championship tally from each of the last three years.

"This is a team that stays in the fight, which finds a way," said coach Steve Borthwick. "It is a young side and we have a lot to learn, but we will grow together.

"At halftime, we were very composed and clear what we need to do, and we had belief we would go on and find a way. In some ways, we stepped forward and showed the depth of the squad in certain positions."

Maul collapse

Wales were first on the board with a penalty try, after England collapsed a maul, with Ethan Roots joining Ollie Chessum in the sin bin.

Despite being down to 13, England stormed back, when Earl picked up at the back of a scrum and scuttled over. Ford failed to convert, as it was ruled he had started his approach when he took a step to the left, allowing Rio Dyer to hoof the ball off the tee - much to Ford's fury.

Wales's ambition paid off just before halftime, when Tomos Williams and Tommy Reffell combined to send Mann over for a try that put the visitors 14-5 ahead.

England struck first in the second half via Ford's boot, after Wales gave away their first penalty in the 47th minute.

A series of reset scrums left the crowd jeering, but when Wales did get hold of the ball, they looked dangerous and it needed a desperate tackle by Tommy Freeman to prevent Josh Adams claiming a third try, after a great burst by fullback Cameron Winnett.

That proved vital, as an England forward assault opened the way for Ford and Elliot Daly to send in Dingwall for a diving finish in the corner.

Fraser Dingwall scores a try for England.
Fraser Dingwall scores a try for England. Photo credit: Getty Images

Ford missed the touchline conversion and Wales led by a point heading into the last 15 minutes.

England looked re-energised, finally getting the crowd involvement they had talked about, with a series of fizzing backline attacks that cranked up the pressure.

It paid off, when Mason Grady deliberately knocked down a pass, earning a yellow card and giving Ford an easy penalty to put England 16-14 ahead.

With only two championship wins at Twickenham in 36 years, Wales launched a strong late assault, but aggressive defence forced them back to leave Wales coach Warren Gatland ruing another narrow loss.

"It's part of the journey we're on," he said. "I said to the players we have to be disappointed with that, 'You should have won that'.

"We allowed them some territory with errors, but we've made an immense amount of progress in the last few weeks. We are going to be a good team, it's just going to take us a little bit of time."

England visit Scotland and Wales play Ireland, who take on Italy on Sunday in Dublin, on Saturday, February 24.