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England fight back in Cardiff to seal 16th straight win

Adrien Denis, AFP | England's James Haskell makes a break as Welshmen Toby Faletau (left) and Ross Moriarty close in during their Six Nations clash in Cardiff on February 11, 2017.

Elliot Daly's dramatic try four minutes from time saw Grand Slam champions England come from behind to beat Wales 21-16 in a Six Nations international in Cardiff on Saturday.


Wales were 16-11 in front with nine minutes left but an Owen Farrell penalty reduced their lead before left wing Daly went in at the corner for a converted try that extended England's national record winning streak to 16 victories.

A fast-paced first half ended with Wales five points in front at 13-8.

Leigh Halfpenny's boot appeared to have secured victory for Wales but England rallied to ensure their Australian coach Eddie Jones retained his perfect record as Red Rose boss.

The decisive passage of play saw Wales force a turnover near their own try-line only for centre Jonathan Davies's aimless kick to be run back in style by Daly, who beat Alex Cuthbert for pace for a stunning try.

Significantly, Farrell added the awkward conversion and that meant Wales had to score a try just to equalise. But England's defence held firm.

Just moments before his try, Daly had got back to end Wales fly-half Dan Biggar's 70-metre interception run.

"There wasn't much thought going through my head, I just ran to the line," Daly told the BBC when asked about his match-winning score.

For the second match in a row, following last week's 19-16 victory over France, England had rallied to win late on and Wasps flyer Daly added: "We've got the belief that if we do our roles, we can win, even when we are behind."


Jones hailed Daly's try by saying: "He's got gas that boy. He's got a bit of X-factor about him."

Dejected Wales boss Rob Howley lamented his side's lack of composure in the closing stages.

"A Test match is about nailing those moments when you come under pressure and we had four minutes where we lost it," he said.

An early penalty apiece from Halfpenny and Farrell left the score tied at 3-3.

But England, after Daly missed a long-range penalty, scored a try through scrum-half Ben Youngs.

However, sustained Welsh pressure was rewarded on the stroke of half-time when wing Liam Williams ran a sharp line from behind a scrum for a try Halfpenny converted.

Wales saw right wing George North pull out an hour before kick-off after he failed a fitness test on a leg injury, with his place taken by Cuthbert.

But Biggar, who came off at half-time in Wales's opening 33-7 win away to Italy, was passed fit for a match where the Principality Stadium's retractable roof remained open at Jones's insistence.

Wales kicked off with a huge advantage in back-row experience.

England's loose forward trio comprised Jack Clifford, in for Tom Wood, No 8 Nathan Hughes and blindside flanker Maro Itoje, best known as a lock.

Prior to Saturday's match, Hughes, Clifford and Itoje had a mere four Test back-row starts between them, whereas the Wales loose forward trio of Ross Moriarty, Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric previously had a combined 130 appearances to their credit.

That difference told as Wales forced two early ruck turnovers.

England, however, kept Wales pinned in their own 22, with lock Joe Launchbury making his presence felt.

It seemed England might succumb to 'white-line' fever until, after several darts by the pack, the ball was spun left and Youngs crossed for a try that Farrell could not convert.

Wales gradually came back, although their cause was not helped by captain Alun Wyn Jones declining two kickable penalties, with the lock also knocking-on in sight of England's line.

England crack

On the stroke of half-time though, England's defence cracked.

From a close-range scrum, scrum-half Rhys Webb found Liam Williams with the wing making the most of centre Scott Williams's 'decoy run'.

Another penalty exchange left Wales 16-11 in front heading into the final quarter.

Somehow England's forwards found the energy to lay siege to the Welsh line only for Biggar to intercept Youngs's pass before Daly hauled him down.

But England edged closer when another Farrell penalty let them just two points behind at 14-16 before Daly had the final say.


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