Steve Borthwick proud of players’ composure as England triumph in Wales

Steve Borthwick proud of players’ composure as England triumph in Wales

Steve Borthwick hailed his players’ composure and intelligence after England won for the first time in Wales since 2017.

England fell behind at the start of the second period in Cardiff, but an instant response from Kyle Sinckler sent them on their way to a deserved 20-10 Guinness Six Nations victory.

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

England led a tense contest 8-3 at the break with winger Anthony Watson’s try at the corner giving them a narrow advantage.

But Louis Rees-Zammit’s interception score gave Wales hope that they could end a tumultuous week on a high.

Wales’ players had threatened strike action due to several off-field issues before a peace deal was brokered on Wednesday.

Ollie Lawrence celebrates his try
Ollie Lawrence’s late try sealed the win for England (David Davies/PA)

England, however, regained control through Sinckler’s score and a late third try from Ollie Lawrence secured Borthwick’s men a second win in three Championship matches.

Borthwick said: “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.

“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.”

It is the first time for 16 years that Wales – already beaten by Ireland and Scotland – have been toppled in their first three Six Nations fixtures, and a possible wooden spoon decider against Italy in Rome on March 11 now beckons.

Against the backdrop of off-field problems, head coach Warren Gatland said: “We weren’t making any excuses for what happened in the week.

“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.”

Asked whether the game in Italy is more important than ever, Gatland said: “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.”