Daly breaks Welsh hearts
REPORT: A late try by Elliot Daly helped England beat Wales 21-16 in a thrilling game in Cardiff on Saturday.
Tactics can win matches. Wales had a tactic that may have cost them the match. Throughout the game, when they were in their own 22, they refused to kick the ball out and instead kicked downfield while England had no compunction about plonking the ball into touch.
With five minutes to go, Wales were leading 16-14, but England were attacking. Ben Te'o broke and passed infield to Danny Care. Liam Williams tackled Care but England carried on attacking with Jonny May close. But Liam Williams won a turnover. The ball went back to Jonathan Davies in his own in-goal. Davies kicked. As was the Welsh wont he did not kick out but down the field. George Ford got the bouncing ball near the Welsh 10-metre line. Ford ran and passed to Owen Farrell. Farrell ran and passed to Elliot Daly. Daly raced down the left touchline, beating Alex Cuthbert's poor attempt at a tackle and scoring in the corner. From touch Farrell converted beautifully. That made the score 21-16 to England, which was the final score.
Wales tried to attack, Massive Kyle Sinckler won a turnover, Wales were penalised, England kicked for touch and won the line-out and Care stopped the match by kicking the ball into the stand.
It was a great Test match, in the best tradition of matches between Wales and England dating back 135 years. There was passion and pride in tons at Principality Stadium and courage by both sides as they defended against ardent attacks - the men of Harlech and the defenders of Rorke's Drift. There was little kicking in the match but numerous phases by both sides, especially England who scored their first try in their 26th phase.
Alex Cuthbert played instead of the injured George North. There was a pause before the start to pay respects to Joost van der Westhuizen who had died in Pretoria on Monday. The Dan Biggar kicked off and Maro Itoje caught the kick. The match was on and suddenly it was half time. It was an enthralling match which flashed through its two 40-minute chunks.
Wales scored first when they put the ball through phases and Courtney Lawes was penalised at a tackle. 3-0 after two minutes.
After this, England dominated, They went through phases till Biggar ripped the ball off them. They went through phases again till Wales won a turnover, which they did far more often than England did. But then Ross Moriarty, a fearless player, tackled Jack Nowell high and Farrell goaled. 3-3 after 10 minutes.
Daly had a chance to give England the lead. His kick from just inside the Welsh half had the legs but was to the right of the uprights.
Twice England went through several phases, but ignored overlaps to set up yet another set of phases. But their second set paid off. Itoje and Nathan Hughes were close and then they went wide where Mike Brown was close, so close that he was at the line. Ben Youngs picked up and dived the short distance to score. 8-3, and Swing Low echoed over the stadium.
At this stage England were enjoying 75% of possession.
Liam Williams set Wales on the attack and Joe Launchbury was penalised at a tackle. Lee Halfpenny goaled. 8-6 after 22 minutes. Hymns and Arias echoed around the stadium.
Rhys Webb kicked high, Cuthbert won the ball back to Biggar who raced ahead and as defenders close in he kicked ahead, but Nowell saved near his line. But Wales were on the attack. Alun Wyn Jones was close. Webb was millimetres short. England were penalised and Wales opted for a five-metre scrum, but Wales were penalised.
Just after this, England were penalised and Wales opted to kick for the line-out, but Wales knocked on at the line-out.
Both penalties were kickable, the first a sitter.
Wales won a turnover and prop Rob Evans broke like a centre. They went wide left but Wyn Jones knocked on in a tackle.
England won the ball from a tackle/ruck. Youngs kicked but Webb charged down his kick. Joe Marler knocked on and Wales had a scrum wide on the left. They won the ball. Moriarty passed to Webb and as Scott Williams came in at an angle Webb passed to Liam Williams who race through the wide gap to score at the posts.
Wales led 13-8 and suddenly it was half-time.
The second half belonged largely to Wales - for 35 minutes that is.
Both sides started making changes early with James Haskell and Jamie George coming on for England and Taulupe Faletau for Wales. The England changes in the half were worth the victory.
Wales had a long period of domination but England got out of their half, and when Wales were penalised at a tackle, Farrell reduced the lead to 13-11 after 55 minutes.
Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams set Wales attacking but the England defences held and so did their discipline till after 23 phases Haskell was penalised and Halfpenny eased Wales into a 16-11 lead. Bread of Heaven sounded round the escited stadium.
England hammered at the Welsh line but suddenly Biggar intercepted and raced down field. With Daly closing in on him Biggar kicked downfield but Daly slid to the ball and flykicked it into touch. Hymns and Arias rang out, but Wales made a mess of the line-out.
When Samson Lee tackled Nowell high, Farrell made it 16-14 with 10 minutes to play.
Wales attacked but Cuthbert knocked on.
Then Te'o broke and gave to Care and the winning score was in motion.
Man of the Match: Dan Biggar and Justin Tipuric stood out for Wales. For England George Ford's judgement was great and Elliot Daly saved and scored tries. And then you looked at the locks, the men with the grubbiest jerseys on the field, two hard working players, Courtney Lawes and Joe Launchbury, and our choice is industrious Joe Launchbury, not only for ruling the line-outs.
Moment of the Match: Elliot Daly's try - ecstasy for some, agony for others.
Villain of the Match: Nobody at all.
Try: L Williams
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Tries: Youngs, Daly
Pens: Farrell 3
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Jamie Roberts.
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Jack Clifford, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (captain), 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Matt Mullan, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Tom Wood, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Ben Te'o, 23 Jonny May.
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)