Full player ratings as England withstand thrilling Wales comeback
ENGLAND 23-19 WALES
In the end, at Twickenham, the forwards won enough penalties for Eddie Jones' side to cruise home. Our England ratings and marks out of 10 for the Welsh players have the usual mix of heroes, lads that will be questioning their performances and plenty in between.
In a first half that most of us will hopefully soon forget with the passing of time, England had the better of it while Wales showed fight but not much in attack. Liam Williams was sin-binned at one stage but England could not get over the white-wash.
The first 40 minutes was a feisty affair, with full-on battles and trash-talking at the breakdown and around the scrum:
— Will Kelleher (@willgkelleher) February 26, 2022
Neither Tom Curry or Tomas Francis were backing down, but the English forwards were edging the arm-wrestle.
Marcus Smith kicked four penalties and missed another simple one, with England full value for their 12-0 lead at the break.
Alex Dombrandt catches Wales sleeping
The first try of the game was also the first Test try for Harlequins No.8 Alex Dombrandt. It might as well have come wrapped in a bow.
Ryan Elias threw towards the back of the lineout but Wales never got a jumper in the air - on their own throw. Dombrandt took the gift in the bread-basket and zoomed past Alex Cuthbert to score in the corner.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 26, 2022
17-0 up with just over 25 minutes to play, England were eventually breached when Tomos Williams' flat pass set up Josh Adams to score. The Welsh comeback gathered momentum, seven minutes later, when Nick Tompkins crashed over after breaking tackle tackle attempts.
England countered with an eight-minute stretch when they dominated possession and piled forward. They were awarded two penalties by referee Mike Adamson and Marcus Smith slotted them both to give them breathing room.
Kieran Hardy took a quick-tap penalty to score, with 30 seconds to go, and Dan Biggar to a quick conversion to give Wales a late glimmer of hope. There was a late penalty awarded against England captain Courtney Lawes but, 84 minutes in, a Maro Itoje steal at the breakdown sealed victory.
Here's how we rated the England and Wales players.
Freddie Steward - 8
Launched one kick from near his own tryline that landed down inside the Wales 22. Some fine restart takes.
Max Malins - 7
Nice kick in behind the English lines. Had a fascinating duel with Cuthbert. Did it well to clear up a Liam Williams grubber.
Elliot Daly - 6
Steady enough outing after being drafted in for the injured Manu Tuilagi. Kept wales honest in attack but fell off a couple of tackles, in defence.
Henry Slade - 6
A gem of a 50:22 kick near the end of the first half. Made a couple of gainline carries. Missed three tackles, though.
Jack Nowell - 6
Lively in the first half as England bossed the ball. Was not seen much in attack as Wales fought back.
Marcus Smith - 8
Landed his first two kicks but missed a simple third, in front of the posts and from just over 30 metres out. Some nice carries and passes to put teammates through gaps. Wales targeted him with carries and it bore fruit as Smith missed four tackles. Scored 18 points and was named ITV's Man of the Match.
Harry Randall - 7
Made lots of great snipes that kept Wales from pressing too far forward in defence.
Ellis Genge - 8
Was in the scrummaging wars from the get-go, and did not have it all his own way. Put in a 72-minute shift and carried well.
Was ticking along fine until an ankle injury ended his game after only 25 minutes.
Kyle Sinckler - 8
Another long shift from the tighthead. Another bull of an outing.
Charlie Ewels - 7
Was so close to an early try, but got held up. Doughty game.
Maro Itoje - 7
Strong, solid game. Made some good front-foot carries and secured a big turnover inside his side's own 22. Made a crucial turnover at the death.
Courtney Lawes - 8
Such soft hands and such a clued-in guy in attack. Got the better of referee Mike Adamson than Wales captain Dan Biggar.
Tom Curry - 7
Tore into the Welsh from the outset. Landed some mighty tackles. Only lasted 40 minutes, though.
Alex Dombrandt - 9
Set the tone with an early turnover win. Lost his footing and conceded a turnover near the Wales tryline. Made Wales pay with the try in the corner after their awful lineout. Made a second turnover, soon after.
Jamie George (for Cowan-Dickie '25) - 7
Sam Simmonds (for Tom Curry '40) - 7
Ben Youngs (for Randall '61) - 6
Nick Isiekwe (for Ewels '68) - 6
Will Stuart (for Sinckler '68) - 5
Joe Marler (for Genge '72) - 5
Liam Williams - 7
Penalised and yellow-carded for playing the ball on the ground, just off his tryline. A couple of smart kicks in behind.
Alex Cuthbert - 7
Had already clocked up 100 metres in gains for his side by the second half. Made two lovely line breaks to get Wales deep into the English half. At it again in the second half but conceded a penalty when isolated on the deck.
Owen Watkin - 5
Okay in attack. Did not offer much in attack.
Nick Tompkins - 7.5
Couple of good runs in the first half. Crashed through two players for his try.
Josh Adams - 6
Kept quiet for 53 minutes, then was cruising over for a try in the corner. Missed two of his five tackles.
Dan Biggar - 6
Had a tough day with ref Mike Adamson as Wales got little change at the breakdown. Missed a conversion after Adams' try but was spot-on when Tompkins scored.
Tomos Williams - 7
Some nice sniping runs. Flat pass cut out two men to tee up Josh Adams for an easy try.
Wyn Jones - 7
Super maul sack prevented an England try. Made a match-leading 13 tackles in the 45 minutes he was on the pitch.
Ryan Elias - 7
Hard to blame him on the lineout dart straight to Dombrandt as the lift was woeful. Landed 16 tackles in defence.
Tomas Francis - 7
Was a real nuisance for England, again, at the scrum. Sank 10 tackles.
Will Rowlands - 7
Tackled and carried well, then put his hand up for more.
Adam Beard - 5
Never got up in the air, at the lineout, for the Dombrandt try. Penalised for tackling Isiekwe on his lineout jump.
Ross Moriarty - 6
A battling performance, but did not have it all his own way.
Taine Basham - 6
Lovely turnover and carry to show some Welsh fight in the first half. Shame he could not have played the full 80.
Toby Faletau - 8
First Test game in yonks and he was out there swinging kitchen sinks at the death. Stuck 19 tackles and was in double figures for carries, too.
Gareth Thomas (for Wyn Jones '45) - 6
Jac Morgan (for Basham '55) - 6
Jonathan Davies (for Watkin '68) - 5
Kieran Hardy (for Williams '68) - 7
Dewi Lake (for Elias '68) - 5
Seb Davies (for Moriarty '70) - 5