England’s 24- 13 win over Wales was not the heavy victory many predicted, but England’s set piece once again proved vital to their victory.
It was the Welsh who opened the scoring at Parc Y Scarlets, when Dan Biggar charged down an attempted grubber kick from English centre Henry Slade, and Johnny Williams pounced on the ball for a try.
England retaliated quickly when Henry Slade went over for his try, and Owen Farrell added two penalties to make the score 11-7 in England’s favour at halftime.
A second half try from Mako Vunipola and two more Farrell penalties tied up the game 24-13.
Despite this being Wales’ seventh defeat in nine games under head coach Wayne Pivac, the Welsh showcased a better defensive display than many expected. With their lack of foundations at set pieces being the main culprit for their defeat.
England’s performance was a polar opposite of their match against Ireland in terms of possession, finishing the match with 60% possession (38% against Ireland) and were forced to play with the ball in hand more, which led to England looking imprecise in attacking moments. But their consistent physicality upfront kept the Welsh suffocated.
French referee Romain Poite was criticised by Pivac, Sam Underhill took Biggar out in the air in the lead up to England’s first try, and Poite waved away any foul play despite an intervention from the TMO.
Ultimately, England’s dominance at the set piece was instrumental in their win. They won all 11 of their own line-outs and imposed themselves at the scrum, forcing Wales to concede five penalties.
Their dominance at set piece was only increased by Wales’ ineffective set piece, notably as a result of hooker Ryan Elias’ throwing continuing to be a liability.
England move ahead to an Autumn Nations Cup final against France, who disposed of Italy 36-5 to cement their place in the final. The match will take place on the 6th of December.