Wales fell to a 33-19 defeat at the hands of England to end their 14-match winning run. Tries from Billy Vunipola, Joe Cockanasiga and Luke Cowan-Dickie were enough to seal victory for England at Twickenham.
Whilst England dominated in a good display of skill and power in a fresh-look squad, it was often Wales’ mistakes that lead to the visitor’s downfall.
Robert Rees looks back at the key points of the game.
Wales gifted England points at key times
The key moments occurred right before and then after the half time. Conceding such a sloppy try from a lineout pushed Wales back to a 14 point gap rather than just the seven.
Coming out for the second half, Gatland’s men needed a response. Following Dan Biggar’s missed kick to touch England sailed upfield and won a penalty which George Ford duly converted.
Handling errors, unforced errors and turnovers proving crucial to the demise of the Welsh.
Usually strong defence suffers
Wales have built their strength around not conceding and an ever-heroic display on the defensive front. Totemic frontmen like Ross Moriarty and Alun Wyn Jones leading the way. Yet, England at Twickenham was a different story though.
30 missed tackles, 15 handling errors and 15 turnovers conceded elevating England’s strength to a commanding position.
The lineout suffered at times, but held to a viable level. It has been an area of concern in the past for Wales, having struggled with it during the Six Nations.
England at Twickenham ‘power game’ too strong for Wales
Eddie Jones experimented in a few areas. Handing a debut to Willi Heinz from the get-go. Despite some fresh faces in the squad is was to be the ever-present and reliable pack that got them going.
Billy Vunipola carrying hard, breaking the gain line and solid in defence. Partnered by Tom Curry who displayed his skills to the highest level once again with eight carries and two defenders beaten in his spell on the field.
Luke Cowan-Dickie had a great game, not only crossing the whitewash but topping England’s carries charts, running for 42m and putting in a great 13 tackles in a fantastic defensive shift.
Lewis Ludlam also looked like a veteran on his debut.
You feel for Jack Singleton, his replacement hooker. He has now sat on the bench three times, for the starting hooker to play all 80 minutes.
Destruction in close quarters created space out wide
It was a picture-perfect performance for Eddie Jones’ men in terms of how they drew the Welsh defenders in field. The lack of pillars at the Welsh rucks caused chaos in defence, allowing England to run nearly 500m.
This forced defenders to encroach inwards, in an attempt to stop the likes of Vunipola and Cowan-Dickie charging down the inside channels.
Jon Joseph, Elliot Daly, George Ford and Joe Cockanasiga all destructive with the ball in hand. Making metres, scoring points and at times turning Welsh defenders inside out.
Wales can build from here
Despite the loss and the end of the winning streak, there were some positives for Warren Gatland to take on to Cardiff next week.
Some very good performances from Jon Davies, Aaron Wainwright, and Alun Wyn Jones
The maul was superb and demolished England in the second half and the scrum held strong, despite only being a Welsh put-in twice
A loss will remove any pressure of an unbeaten run that would have gone to 15 had they won and possibly as far as 18 by the World Cup itself
Wales would have also cemented number one ranking in the world [had they won]. That added pressure Gatland can ‘do without’ in his final farewell. He remarked, “It’s a nice accolade but the biggest prize is a couple of months away in Japan,”
A tough day at Twickenham for Wales yesterday as the winning streak came to an end, but nobody ever won or lost a World Cup in early August. https://t.co/c9BBAhT1vS
— Cardiff Rugby Life (@CardiffRugbyWeb) August 12, 2019
Wales will now go back to Glamorgan and prepare for what should be another thrilling contest between the two sides, when they meet in Cardiff next Saturday.
Wales will want a win, not only to boost confidence but to restart the momentum, of which they had none of in the first of the tests.
“Main photo credit”