England have surely used up all their good luck and fortune with that narrow escape. A brilliantly physical and enthralling test match, here is how the England players rated.
1 Joe Marler – 7
A much-improved performance by Marler, who has responded well to the impending return of Mako Vunipola. Tackled well, carried more and solid at the scrum.
2 Dylan Hartley – 5
Replaced even earlier this week on 46 minutes and still looks way short of his best. It’s a tough call for Italy whether Jamie George should start, or if the benefit of more game time will help Hartley get back to form.
3 Dan Cole – 6
Another solid effort and won a vital scrum against the head when Wales opted to pack down from a penalty. Still needs to offer more in the rest of his game.
4 Joe Launchbury – 8.5
A huge performance from the Wasps man. Gave England the engine they have been missing with Chris Robshaw’s injury, putting in 19 tackles. Deservedly named man-of-the-match.
5 Courtney Lawes – 8
Colossal alongside his second row partner, Lawes put in some of the more eye-catching bits to compliment Launchbury’s steady industry. Ran him close for the match honours. Still carries a little high.
6 Maro Itoje – 7
Better by Itoje than last week, although the Welsh back-row trio generally had the upper hand. Still doesn’t look fully comfortable in the 6 shirt (he weirdly packed down at lock in some of the scrums). Rucked very well and was a nuisance at the breakdown.
7 Jack Clifford – 5
A very quiet first Six Nations start for Clifford. Brought in to take some of the carrying workload from Hughes he didn’t really manage to make an impression. Stripped of the ball in contact once and didn’t dominate in the tackle. Replaced on 48 minutes.
8 Nathan Hughes – 6
Still looks like he is finding his feet at international level. Got through a huge amount of work (22 carries) and beat three defenders, but was all too often stopped at source by some ferocious Welsh tackling.
9 Ben Youngs – 6
A mixed bag from Youngs. Did well to wriggle under Alex Cuthbert and score his try and got away with being offside to snuff out a Welsh attack. His delivery was still somewhere short of its best, however, and his kicking was uncharacteristically erratic. Threw the intercept to Biggar which thankfully didn’t cost them the game.
10 George Ford – 7
Some brilliant delayed weighted passes were wonderful to behold, but also showed the odd sloppy pass as well. Fielded Davies’ late clearance kick and had the vision to set up the try.
11 Elliot Daly – 8
Scored the decisive try – Alex Cuthbert foolishly showed him an outside shoulder and Daly made it count. Always looked threatening whenever he had ball in hand. A missed long-range penalty and a hospital pass to Brown slight blots.
12 Owen Farrell – 8
Ran some great lines, kicked well and took a huge hit from Ross Moriarty in his stride. His running game is definitely improving. May have been at fault for Liam Williams try, although it was a beautiful line picked by the Welsh winger.
13 Jonathan Joseph – 6
Joseph is still to really come alive this tournament. Seemed to threaten the Welsh backline with his dancing feet but never really cut loose. One wayward pass into touch was poor. Could make way for Te’o next match.
14 Jack Nowell – 7
Justified his place over Jonny May with some bristling carries although was never really given any space to exploit. Some brilliant defence and a very important tackle on Biggar.
15 Mike Brown – 6
Not Brown’s best game in an England shirt, a few uncharacteristic errors crept in – a kick out on the full being the most unforgiveable. Did suck in three defenders with a powerful carry just before Youngs’ try however. Could lose spot to Daly for the Italy game is Jones opts to experiment.
Replacements – 8
Once again the ‘finishers’ showed their worth and helped England steal the game at the death. The standouts were again Ben Te’o, Danny Care, Jamie George and James Haskell – all contributing something the player they replaced was missing and all have potentially earned a start against Italy. England’s bench is currently the difference between them and other teams.
Who impressed you most in this game?
By Henry Ker