Wayne Pivac is in the spotlight
We were pretty happy defensively in how we worked. I’m pretty disappointed with some of the decisions, particularly Dan Biggar being taken in the air and the ref not calling it. The scrums were a lottery and it something we have to work on, but we have learned a lot today about people who can play at this level. We need to build the performance tonight
Pivac has a terrible habit of moaning about things he can’t control (the ref) rather than being straight and insightful about the things he can control (his team and tactics)
Eddie Jones gives his thoughts.
Today was a bit of an arm wrestle wasn’t it? There was one phase of play in the second half where we played well but then lost our shape and we’ve got to get better in those situations, but I can’t fault the intent of the players. We’ll be ready for France if that’s who we play in the final
While the scoreline isn’t a hammering, Wales did very little in this game other than scoring a try from a charge-down. England seemed to accept the Wales defence was having a decent day and appeared to accept grinding out a result - it is, after all, the English way.
FULL TIME! Wales 13 - 24 England
Dan Robson chips the ball out and that’s the end of the match and England qualify for the final of the Autumn Nations Cup.
80 mins. England have a lineout in the Wales 22 which is won but it’s very sloppy in midfield and the ball is loose and grabbed by Faletau. Wales bring it out in an attempt finish with a flourish which inevitably fails as England reclaim possession.
MISSED PENALTY! Wales 13 - 24 England (Owen Farrell)
76 mins. England’s scrum absolutely powders Wales as Itoje’s voice shouts “And we go! And we go!” repeatedly, which is so irritating it causes Francis to start a brawl. Poite signals another penalty for the visitors in a kickable position which Farrell pushes right.
PENALTY! Wales 13 - 24 England (Owen Farrell)
72 mins. England return to the England half via a Youngs kick and Jack Willis is first over the ball when Rees-Zammit is tackled in possession. Penalty to England and Farrell punishes Wales further.
Sinckler off, Will Stuart on. Ben Earl replaces Sam Underhill.
Nick Tompkins’s shift is over and Owen Watkin takes his place.
70 mins. Sheedy takes a quick tap and go from his 22 and feeds Rees-Zammit who kicks on to chase but he’s caught by Farrell. He was very nearly away.
68 mins. Ben Youngs finds a brilliant touch after marking the ball on a very tight angle. Wales have a lineout just outside their own 22 which they secure and Webb box-kicks for Watson to claim.
Callum Sheedy replaces Halfpenny.
Jonny Hill for Launchbury, Cowan-Dickie for George, Genge for Mako Vunipola.
PENALTY! Wales 13 - 21 England (Owen Farrell)
66 mins. The captain puts his team at least two scores ahead.
65 mins. Ben Youngs appears in the 13 channel on a short pass from Ford and feeds Watson who pins his ears back for the line but Rees-Zammit shows his prodigious pace to catch him on the turn. In the back play a deliberate knock-on by Elliott Dee is spotted and Farrell gratefully points to the posts.
61 mins. Jack Willis is on for Tom Curry and the backrow’s first job will be to take part in an England lineout around the halfway line. Youngs box kicks off the back of the maul and Jonny May claims it to put England on the attack in the Wales half.
PENALTY! Wales 13 - 18 England (Dan Biggar)
58 mins. The lineout looks 144,232% better since Elliott Dee came on and another clean possession allows Nick Tompkins to carry the ball up powerfully and Itoje is offside in defence. Biggar takes the points.
56 mins. Some kicks back and forth end when Daly puts his hands in the ruck and Wales will have a lineout near England’s 22.
PENALTY! Wales 10 - 18 England (Dan Biggar)
54 mins. It was bang in front and Biggar doesn’t miss those.
53 mins. Wales have decent lienout possession in the England half after Dee finds his jumper at the tail. The ball goes all the way left to Rees-Zammit who hands Watson off and nearly gets away but the England winger clings onto his leg and edges him into touch. On the next possession Wales have a penalty on the England 22 and Alun Wyn Jones wants Biggar to take the points.
Anthony Watson for Jonathan Joseph.
Aaron Wainwright for Shane Lewis-Hughes.
TRY! Wales 7 - 18 England (Mako Vunipola)
51 mins. Billy Vunipola attacks the blind side from the base of the scrum and is stopped just short of the line, when the ball is recycled England’s forwards are pummelling the line with Wales offside all over the place. Eventually, on the fifth phase, Mako Vunipola is over the line with assistance from Itoje.
Farrell makes no mistake with the conversion.
49 mins. England are on the front foot again in the Wales half and Daly dabs a grubber into the right corner that Halfpenny shepherds into touch under pressure form Slade. From the lineout Faletau is caught on his won line by Underhill and heaved over to be tackled in-goal for an England scrum five. Tough period for Wales.
Rhys Webb replaces Lloyd Williams.
47 mins. Wales have some phases in the England half for the first time in ages. They are recycling well enough but making little ground as the England defensive line is up quick. In the end it loses all pattern and the ball is lost.
Ellott Dee replaces Ryan Elias at hooker.
45 mins. England catch and drive and the maul is moving forward with ominous intent in the Wales half before Ryan Elias gets right in there, ties up the ball and wins his side a scrum.
43 mins. England win a penalty at the scrum and Pivac has had enough and replaces Samson Lee with Tomas Francis.
41 mins. First lineout for Wales and Ryan Elias throws it at about a 45 degree angle and it’s called not straight. That was hideous.
40 mins. Dan Biggar sends it deep and after a Billy Vunipola carry Ben Youngs boots it to touch
Half time musings
Wales have stood up to England’s physicality well, but in doing that they’ve completed plenty more tackles than the visitors which may be a factor in the second half. England are completely on top in the scrum and the kicking game is paying more dividends than those Lloyd Williams and Biggar put up. This is mainly due to England kicking on the front foot when they actually want to rather than the “get us away from here” tactic Wales are forced to employ.
Wales need possession in the second half, and preferably not to drop what possession they have.
HALF TIME! Wales 7 - 11 England
Ben Youngs decides that’s it for this period and chips the ball off the field to end the half.
40 mins. Wales wrap up England in the tackle and win the scrum in the opposition half which will give them one last attacking platform in the half, but all they can do is give a penalty away after Jake Ball won’t let go of the ball after Tom Curry clamps on at the breakdown.
PENALTY! Wales 7 - 11 England (Owen Farrell)
39 mins. Farrell extends his side’s lead.
38 mins. Romain Poite, whether rightly or wrongly, has clearly decided that Samson Lee is struggling as it’s another penalty against him. It looked more like Mako Vunipola lost his footing to me, but whatever I think it’s a chance for three points from Farrell.
37 mins. The scrum is completed with little fuss, which is a positive for Wales and Ford probes a with a kick behind that finds touch. Elias is inaccurate with his throw and England are back on the attack in the Wales 22 as Alun Wyn Jones flies out of the line and forces Sinckler to knock on under pressure.
35 mins. Josh Adams snaffles a Biggar kick on the chase but once recycled the ball finds Samson Lee at first receiver who as a fly-half shows why he’s a prop by throwing a hideous pass to Elias’s feet and the hooker knocks on. Wales now face another scrum. Uh-oh.
32 mins. Wales win a clean lineout and Biggar cross-kicks and finds Adams on the right wing who is smashed into touch by Daly covering across. From the resulting lineout England get a maul going which Wales do a horrible job of defending and give a penalty away for side entry.
PENALTY! Wales 7 - 8 England (Owen Farrell)
30 mins. From 25 metres out and right of the posts, Farrell finally puts his team into the lead that their possession and territory warrants.
29 mins. Ford becoming more prominent in England’s attacking patterns, which is not a good sign for Wales as he starts to dictate the tempo. But England are again keen to kick after a few phases, which sees Wales run a couple then kick it back. Story of the half so far.
26 mins. For the first time in the match the Wales tackle line stands off England’s attack and the extra space allows them to get a offloading set going which puts Ford in behind. But the Wales defence does a great scrambling job and manages to get hands on the ball at the breakdown. Penalty Wales and Biggar will clear.
23 mins. At the back of the ruck Lloyd Williams is ponderous getting the ball away and the ref calls ball out as Kyle Sinckler jumps on the ball. It all ends in another scrum and Wales really need to assert themselves here.
MISSED PENALTY! Wales 7 - 5 England (Leigh Halfpenny)
21 mins. Halfpenny has try from 50 metres pretty much in front, but he pushes it just right. Wales still up by two.
19 mins. Another scrum, another poor outcome for Wales as England get a pen for Samson Lee engaging early again, but it looked less clearcut in the replay. No matter, England will have possession and Lee will have to now convince the ref he’s not having a bad day.
There was a query around whether Dan Biggar was taken in the air in the phases leading up to the try and replays look pretty conclusive that he was. It was raised by the touch judge with Romain Poite, but the ref wasn’t interested.
TRY! Wales 7 - 5 England (Henry Slade)
16 mins. Wales have untidy possession from the scrum and Launchbury whips it from Lloyd Williams and England are on the attack. They move it all the way right then back inside for Sinckler to carry it up to the 5m line before the ball quickly goes left for Henry Slade to score.
Farrell misses the conversion
TRY! Wales 7 - 0 England (Johnny Williams)
10 mins. Henry Slade tries a grubber but Biggar blocks it and as it runs behind the England line the Wales 10 is first to hack it on and then Williams beats the defence to ground it and score. Well, well, this makes things interesting.
Biggar converts, the Ford puts the restart out on the full!
MISSED PENALTY! Wales 0 - 0 England (Owen Farrell)
9 mins. It was 4o metres out and just to the right of the posts and the England captains couldn’t bring it left enough to slot it. Poor miss by his standards.
8 mins. The first set scrum leads to an England penalty after Samson Lee loses his footing. Farrell fancies three points.
7 mins. England are working phases around halfway and the Wales defence looks up to the task of repelling the runners so far. The attack ends with another towering kick from Ford that Itoje knocks on when challenging Halfpenny in the air for the catch.
3 mins. England have the first scrum of the game on the Wales 10m line and a big early test for the Wales pack is avoided by the red front row engaging early. Free kick England and they tap and go quickly but it comes to nought after Josh Adams marks a Ford kick.
1 min. George Ford gets us underway and Faletau brings the kick back a few metres before Lloyd Williams clears upfield.
England do their best to sing about the Queen with a music box backing track. Wales have more players with their eyes closed to a male voice choir backing track, with Alun Wyn Jones giving it a particularly huge belt.
The teams are on their way out to the sound of nothing but their squads clapping and the clanging worry of Wayne Pivac’s future prospects.
England are first and Wales make them wait before Alun Wyn Jones jogs his side out.
Lest we forget, this is the last round of pool matches in the Autumn Nations Cup. Yes, I’d kinda forgotten as well, which probably says a lot about the standing of this tournament.
Or more likely it says a lot about me.
Where can Wales focus to win?
Lineout for a start. They’ve hit 71% so far and Ryan Elias, the hooker who returns today, has played a large part in that. He must get his arrows sorted to make this a reliable platform.
Elsewhere, they need more punch in the carry, which Jake Ball will bring and Johnny Williams showed a bit of vs Georgia. The introduction of Lloyd Williams from the start could assist this as he does get the ball away consistently quicker that Gareth Davies. Samson Lee and Wyn Jones in the front row gives them a good chance of stemming the English scrum that did some damage vs Ireland.
England’s defence has not been tested with anything resembling patterns that ask questions of its blitz first and hard plan, particularly in midfield and Wales have shown some some kernels of an newly expansive game. Whether this game is developed enough to cause problems today is the key question.
Pre match reading
Sam Underhill has been consistently oustanding since his introdution to international rugby. Rob Kitson has a chat with him.
Any Wales fans out there feeling at all positive? If so then let me know or tell me the full depth of your fears. England fans, are you as confident as everyone assumes you should be?
Justin Tipuric has failed to recover from his bang on the head vs Georgia, and so Wayne Pivac shows his faith in James Botham by moving the young Cardiff man across to the openside to complete a new look back row with Shane Lewis-Hughes and Taulupe Faletau. Louis Rees-Zammit and Johnny Williams keep their places, as does Jake Ball who will partner record breaker Alun Wyn jones at lock.
Meanwhile, there’s raised eyebrows aplenty at the starting berth for Lloyd Williams at scrum-half, a decent technician but not obviously near international standard lately.
Eddie Jones makes one enforced replacement as Ollie Lawrence’s injury sees George Ford return to the starting line-up. Although, this probably would have happened anyway. Man of the series so far, Maro Itoje, continues his partnership with Joe Launchbury and it’s another 6-2 bench for England with the mercurial Jack Willis ready to appear at some point.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny; Louis Rees-Zammit, Nick Tompkins, Johnny Williams, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Lloyd Williams; Wyn Jones, Ryan Elias, Samson Lee, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Shane Lewis-Hughes, James Botham, Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Callum Sheedy, 23 Owen Watkin.
England: Elliot Daly; Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Owen Farrell, Jonny May; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Joe Launchbury, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Will Stuart, 19 Jonny Hill, 20 Ben Earl, 21 Jack Willis, 22 Dan Robson, 23 Anthony Watson.
Ninth in the world rankings plays second, which sounds like a foregone conclusion results-wise. However, when you look at the respective form and teams and cast an eye over the teamsheets you, er, also come to the same view.
England, victors over Ireland comfortably last week, bring with them significant carrying power and a smothering defence that in combination will look to mash Wales’s rather green looking line-up into a fine paste.
Wales, and coach Wayne Pivac, have very little to lose with zero expectations of victory and a team featuring a teenager and inexperience scattered elsewhere. This approach could be the perfect antidote to the miasma of malaise that shrouds the squad, or it could be like sending very young christians against some particularly fuming, massive lions.
Some hope for the home team is that England have lost on their previous two visits to Wales and should things go that way again today it wouldn’t be the first time a much fancied Red Roses side has come unstuck in these parts.