Steve Borthwick prides himself on the players’ composure as England triumphed in Wales

Steve Borthwick praised his players’ composure and intelligence after England won in Wales for the first time since 2017.

England fell behind early in the second period in Cardiff but an immediate response from Kyle Sinckler sent them on their way to a deserved 20-10 Guinness Six Nations win.

“The reaction from the players after Wales scored an interception early in the second half was great,” said head coach Borthwick.

“Wales turned the game into a kicking competition and it turned into a real pressure match. But the players adapted really well to win this pressure match.

“The two halves were very different, but that tells me a lot about our players. The reactions to the attempt showed how intelligent and composed they are on the pitch.

“They had those setbacks before in Cardiff and didn’t react so it shows how the team is growing with Owens (Farrell) in the lead.”

England led a tense battle 8-3 at the break, with winger Anthony Watson’s effort from the corner giving them a narrow advantage.

But Louis Rees-Zammit’s interception score gave Wales hope they could end a turbulent week on a high.

The Wales players had threatened to go on strike over several off-field issues before a peace deal was negotiated on Wednesday.

Ollie Lawrence’s late attempt sealed victory for England (David Davies/PA)

However, England regained control through Sinckler’s strike and a late third try from Ollie Lawrence secured Borthwick’s men a second win in three Championship games.

Borthwick said: “What we saw in the first half was an improvement in our ability to get the ball to the edge. They saw the ball speed improve and we got a really good try.

“I’m happy for the players and the English fans – there was a fair contingent there.

“They helped the team enormously. The players showed a lot of stamina and spirit and tactically changed a few things in the game. They kept fighting.

“I liked that it was an incredible test match. It’s a difficult time for rugby in so many different ways right now and what these Welsh players have been through over the past few weeks and for producing such a performance they deserve incredible respect.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland

Wales head coach Warren Gatland (Joe Giddens/PA)

It’s the first time in 16 years that Wales – already beaten by Ireland and Scotland – have been toppled in their first three Six Nations games and now beckons a possible wooden spoon decider against Italy in Rome on March 11.

Against the backdrop of the off-field troubles, head coach Warren Gatland said: “We made no excuses for what happened during the week.

“Getting up for a game between England and Wales is not difficult. The week has been challenging, we know and understand that, but we made no apologies.”

Asked if the game in Italy is more important than ever, Gatland said: “The last thing you want is to get the wooden spoon. That has to be our focus.

“Part of this Six Nations is about us thinking about the next six or seven months. We have older players who still have their hands up and younger players who need some time.

“We don’t have that group in the middle that has 30 or 40 caps. We need to marry these two together and start thinking about it.

“Some of these youngsters need to spend more time together. You can’t coach experience.”

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