Six Nations: Steve Borthwick praises England’s composure in Cardiff win

England coach Steve Borthwick during a warm up against Wales Credit: Alamy
England coach Steve Borthwick during a warm up against Wales Credit: Alamy

England head coach Steve Borthwick praised his players for maintaining their composure after going behind to Wales in the second half to go on and claim a 20-10 win in Cardiff.

The win was the Red Rose’s first victory in Cardiff since 2017 and is the second win in the Borthwick era and takes England to third on the table.

Soon after the second period began, Wales flyer Louis Rees-Zammit latched onto an England pass to score, giving his side the lead. England maintained their composure and built themselves in the game again, with Kyle Sinckler crashing over four minutes later.

Intelligence and composure on the pitch

Borthwick was delighted with how his players responded and played intelligent rugby to claim the victory.

“The response of the players after Wales scored an interception try at the start of the second half was magnificent,” said Borthwick.

“Wales took the game into a kicking contest, and it became a real pressure battle. But the players adapted really well to win that pressure battle.

“The two halves were very different, but that tells me a lot about our players. How intelligent and composed they are on the pitch, you could see the response to the try.

“They’ve had those knockbacks in Cardiff before and not responded, so it shows how the team is growing with Owen’s (Farrell) leadership.”

The coach was happy with some aspects of the first half notably how fast England moved the ball.

Borthwick also praised the England supporters who made the trip to Cardiff and believed they went a long way in helping the team get over the line.

“What we saw first half was an improvement in our ability to move the ball to the edge. You saw the speed of ball improve and we scored a really well worked try,” Borthwick said.

“I’m delighted for the players and the England supporters – there was a fair contingent there.

“They helped the team immensely. The players showed great resilience and spirit and changed things tactically within the game. They kept fighting.

“I liked that it was an incredible Test match. It’s a tough time for rugby in so many different ways right now and what those Welsh players have been through the last couple of weeks and, to put in a performance like that, they deserve incredible respect for it.”

No excuses

Meanwhile, after a difficult week loaded with off-field issues, the loss for Wales only rubbed salt in the wound, but Gatland refused to make excuses after the game.

“We weren’t making any excuses for what happened in the week,” Gatland said.

“Getting up for an England-Wales game is not difficult. The week was challenging, we realise and understand that but we were not making any excuses.”

Gatland’s Wales will face an impressive Italy side in the next round, with the losers set to take the Wooden Spoon, something the coach desperately wants to avoid.

“The last thing you want to do is get the Wooden Spoon. That’s got to be our focus from that.

“Part of this Six Nations is about us thinking about the next six or seven months. We’ve got older players still holding their hands up and younger players who need some time.

“We’ve not got that group in the middle who have 30 or 40 caps. We’ve got to marry the two together and start thinking about that going forward.

“Some of those youngsters need to be given more time together. You can’t coach experience.”

READ MORE: Six Nations: Wooden Spoon beckons for Wales as England make it two wins out of three

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