England recorded what turned out to be a relatively comfortable win against Wales at Twickenham, beating the visitors 29-18.
On a sunny afternoon in South West London the conditions were perfect for running rugby, and England were the ones to make the most of it. The afternoon got off to a great start for the hosts, as Danny Care twice tapped penalties quickly and nipped over under the posts to give England an early 7-0 lead.
Luther Burrell dotted down in the corner in the 33rd minute after a superbly weighted grubber through from Billy Twelvetrees, who also had one of his most influential games in an England shirt to date.
And while the boot of Leigh Halfpenny kept Wales in touch for the majority of the game, it was a strangely lacklustre performance from the Welshmen, showing little of the attacking verve that they had played with in the previous round against France.
The stats back up this assessment. While the teams shared 50% each of possession, England made vastly more metres with ball in hand – 570 compared to 420 – and beat more men – 24 to 19 – than Wales.
The visitors were their own worst enemies at times, turning the ball over on 17 separate occasions. They were also some way off achieving the most important Key to the Game, according to IBM TryTracker, making just 82% of their tackles.
England, meanwhile, smashed two of theirs, making six clean line breaks and forcing a penalty from an impressive 50% of scrums.
For the hosts, Mike Brown again excelled. He was England’s most potent attacking threat, making 156 metres with ball in hand and beating seven defenders. Luther Burrell also put in a strong performance, making six gainline breaks and 44 metres, and of course weighing in with the all important second try.
England capture the Triple Crown and travel to Rome next weekend, knowing they will need a big win if they are to reel in Ireland’s superior points difference. Another performance like this, however, and they stand an excellent chance.
By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43
For more stats and live analysis during all the England games, head to IBM TryTracker.
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images