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Guinness England Rugby legend Alex Corbisiero reflects on the 12-6 win over Wales in the second round of the NatWest 6 Nations at Twickenham, highlights his standout performers and hails England's tough defence.
That was a real Test match and a hard fought battle. I thought England dominated the first half, scored their tries very well, and then defended with everything they had in the second 40, against a good Wales side.
I think it was those defensive sets that decided the game. England, through George Ford and Owen Farrell were masterful. Their decision-making, when to kick and when to run, constantly put the Welsh under pressure.
And when their defence was tested, they proved immense against a very good Welsh attack – who have a very physical carrying pack but also a very expansive back line with a lot of pace.
England marshalled them really well, they were winning those collisions on the gain line, nullifying that quick ball threat and they competed at the break down at the right times.
They just had the ability to hold out – there were times they were stretched but the dam didn’t burst. They found a way to relive that pressure, clear their line, and that is the sign of a really good side. I think they have a balance to their game which is special.
Kicking, catching and chasing
Our back three covered the back field really well, defending Wales’ kicking game. We won the aerial battles and the Ford/Farrell axis was perfect in executing our own ambitions to go long. How many times did we see Owen and George pinning them back, splitting the field so they had double the options and angle?
England had a really good grasp of the kicking game and how to use it to their strengths, something they came into the match knowing they were going to do. "I’d love to see England up the intensity against Scotland."
England knew they wanted to control the game through the boot – put Wales under pressure and built everything from there, it was really impressive and that comes down to leadership and experience of our half backs.
It is so hard to wins games when you are constantly getting pinned back in your own half.
Win is a win
We are used to seeing England score a lot of points, but you have to give Wales credit.
England operated on a level at times that really excited me. They have announced themselves in this tournament, the fire is there, the momentum is there, the performances are there and the Wales win was a very big step in the right direction.
Mike Brown deserved his man-of-the-match award but I thought Farrell was phenomenal. He controlled the game in so many aspects – defensively he marshalled it, and in attack, that shape and decision-making put England on the front foot.
Notable mentions to Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje, all of whom had good games and were busy around the park. A stand-out moment for me was Sam Underhill’s tackle in the corner to deny a Welsh try - unbelievable. He made a huge impact, as did the whole bench.
Scotland up next
I’d love to see England up the intensity against Scotland in two weeks, I think our forward pack has another gear in them. I’d like to see us bring more of the mauling game against the Scots.
We could also be a little more clinical – score one or two more tries – but honestly, if England play against Scotland like they did against Wales, I think they will win. I'm looking forward to it.