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Six Nations 2024: England bounce back with victory over Wales as fans leave Twickenham happy

Six Nations 2024: England bounce back with victory over Wales as fans leave Twickenham happy

  • Written by Mantej Mann
  • BBC Sport at Twickenham

video caption, Six Nations 2024: England 16-14 Wales – Highlights

England were desperate for entertainment against Wales on their return home, but in the end only the result matters.

They had to do it the hard way as George Ford's 71st-minute penalty denied Wales a first away win in the Six Nations in England since 2012 as the home side came from a first-half deficit to win 16-14.

Hooker and new captain Jimmy George are the driving force behind England's ambition to revitalize their London base with an attacking brand of rugby, but for now a landslide victory over their neighbors to the west is seen as a “big step”.

“The result was very important,” said a relieved George after his first home Test as captain.

“I loved every second of it from the entrance to the final whistle. It seemed like the fans had a really good day, and that's what we wanted to do in the end. Did we want to perform better on the pitch? Of course.

“But I loved every second and I really felt like everyone in the stands did. We felt a huge amount of pride coming from the stands and that's what we love.”

“This is just the first step but getting back to winning ways at Twickenham has been extremely important.”

video caption, Borthwick 'proud' that England 'find a way to win'

Twickenham has looked less like a castle and more like a nervous cauldron in the past 12 months.

The hosts suffered their first ever loss to Pacific Islanders Fiji in their last home match before the World Cup, five months after a record home defeat to France.

But the atmosphere in George and England's return was clear before the ball was even kicked.

Thousands of fans lined the walkway to greet their heroes and guide them to the sanctuary of the home locker room, deep within the stadium.

The noise followed the players onto the pitch during warm-ups before rising to a crescendo during their encore of the national anthems.

England knocked on the door early but their attack failed to break through. A pause in play brought the live band quickly into a performance of Gala's Freed from Desire.

The crowd responded and the decibel level remained high.

But while the attack failed to spark light, England's new blitz, implemented by defense coach Felix Jones, remained relatively resolute.

“I thought we physically controlled the game,” George added.

“Wales’ attack was good but I was relieved we were able to keep going and put them under pressure.

“I think Felix would like us to defend 100 stages at a time.

“We would like to avoid that but we like it. [Previous defence coach] Kev Seinfeld did a great job laying the foundations and Felix came with a tremendous amount of energy. It's contagious.

“The boys have bought into what he is doing and we have a greater understanding of what he wants from us.”

When the game appeared to be heading away, England reverted to a practical kicking approach to test the Wales defence.

The pressure saw the hosts open the door to victory after Josh Adams curled the ball high before Fraser Dingwall scored in the corner and Ford added the match-winning penalty.

England will face bigger tests in their remaining three matches against Scotland, Ireland and France, but four points against Wales is a reward for their vociferous fans and allows time to continue working on their attacking fluency.

“We are very clear about who we want England to move forward with,” George said. “The conversations we have had with the coaches and players are comprehensive.”

“We want an environment that people love, but it's not just laughing and joking, it's the process of getting better.

“It is important for us to continue to build on that.

He added: “Getting a positive result from this result, with the fight and character that we showed, is a big step for us.”

video caption, Six Nations 2024: Ben Earl breaks through the Wales defense to score a try for England
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