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Borthwick’s England ‘find a way’ to beat Wales

Steve Borthwick praised England’s resilience as they “found a way to win” after coming from behind to beat Wales 16-14 in a tense Six Nations encounter at Twickenham on Saturday.

Wales were 14-5 ahead at half-time and on course to end a seven-match losing streak at Twickenham following a penalty try and an effort from Alex Mann either side of a score by England No 8 Ben Earl.

Never before had England been nine points down at home and still won.

But England, down to 13 men early on after forwards Ollie Chessum and Ethan Roots were sin-binned, hit back after the break.

A George Ford penalty cut the deficit before a try from centre Fraser Dingwall left England, third at last year’s Rugby World Cup in France, just a point adrift at 13-14.

Ford then landed another penalty to make it 16-14 as England led for the first time in the match after Wales were reduced to 14 men following a yellow card for replacement Mason Grady.

England, thanks to committed defence, then closed out the game to make it two wins out of two in the tournament following a 27-24 victory away to Italy, with Wales not scoring at all in the second half.

“This is a team that stays in the fight and a team that finds a way,” said England coach Borthwick. 

“The work we’re doing each day is paying dividends.”

Discipline proved a problem, with England conceding six first-half penalties but in hooker Jamie George’s first home Test as captain, the home side turned things around.

“What I sensed at half-time was (the team were) calm, composed, with great leadership from Jamie and a determination to find a way to win,” former England skipper Borthwick said.

England were booed off the field the last time they played at Twickenham following a World Cup warm-up defeat by Fiji in August.

‘England way’

But a crowd of more than 81,000 gave them a very different reception following Saturday’s success, with George saying: “The fans seemed like they had a really good day out.”

England, however, will likely face a sterner challenge away to Scotland on February 24 when the Championship resumes after a rest week as they look to end a three-match losing streak against their oldest rivals.

“We know we are going to need to get better going up to Murrayfield,” said George. 

“The foundations that we have laid has allowed us to have some belief and we believe in what we are doing, we believe in the England way.”

For a new-look Wales this reverse meant they had lost their first two games of the tournament following an agonising 27-26 defeat by Scotland in Cardiff—a match they nearly won despite being 27-0 behind early in the second half. 

“I’m proud of the effort and the performance,” said Wales coach Warren Gatland. 

“I’m disappointed we didn’t come away with a win. It’s part of the journey we’re on.”

Wales’ next match is a daunting trip to Dublin, where they could face an Ireland side on course for successive Grand Slams should the Six Nations champions win at home to Italy on Sunday.

“My message for the Welsh public is to have a bit of patience,” former Ireland coach Gatland said. 

“We came here with no fear and confidence we could win the game. We fell a little short. 

“Ireland will be a level up.

“I think the boys are desperate to get a win.

“A lot of guys are coming from (Welsh) regional teams that aren’t having much success, so they’re not used to having that ‘w’ (win) next to their name.”

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