Borthwick shrugs off criticism of England’s kick-heavy style in Wales win

  • ‘That’s part of the contest,’ says head coach after 20-10 victory
  • Wales’ Gatland refuses to blame strike threat for defeat

Steve Borthwick defended England’s kick-heavy victory against Wales after chalking up a first win in Cardiff since 2017 to continue his rebuild as head coach.

Tries from Anthony Watson, Kyle Sinckler and Ollie Lawrence steered England to a scrappy 20-10 win leaving them third in the Six Nations table before France’s meeting with Scotland on Sunday. The margin of victory would have been greater had Farrell not missed 10 points from the tee.

Watson conceded the victory was “a grind” with England and Wales needing no invitation to put boot to ball, but after beating Italy last time out Borthwick has now secured a first win away from Twickenham and two on the trot. “I think that’s part of the contest,” said Borthwick. “The two teams who kicked more metres going into round three, I think, were France and Ireland. They’ve kicked more metres than anybody else and they are the top two sides in the world. It’s part of the game, when you play against a team that has great line speed it’s sensible to consider all options.”

After the Italy victory Borthwick highlighted how England had been dropping off in the final 20 minutes of matches but Farrell believes the manner in which his side saw the game out shows their development. “I felt that the last 20 minutes was a real step forward for us,” he said. “It’s not all a matter of scoreboard, it’s about building pressure as well. We deserved to be more up at times because I was bad off the tee today but if we’d have done that Wales would have had to force their hand a bit earlier. It was a good test for us and we took control in that last 20 I thought.”

The England coach, Steve Borthwick, on the pitch before the Six Nations match against Wales.
The England coach, Steve Borthwick, said it had been ‘sensible to consider all options’ when devising a gameplan against Wales. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO/Shutterstock

Wales briefly led after half-time thanks to Louis Rees-Zammit’s intercept try but succumbed to a third straight defeat of the championship, rounding off a turbulent fortnight in which the threat of strike action from the playing squad put the match in jeopardy. The head coach, Warren Gatland, refused to blame the upheaval for the defeat, however, as he turns his attention to Wales’ crucial trip to Italy on 11 March.

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“The last thing you want to do is get a wooden spoon and that’s got to be our focus,” said Gatland. “We weren’t making any excuses for what happened in the week. Getting up for an England v Wales match is not difficult. The week was challenging, we realise and understand that, but we’re not making any excuses.”


Gerard Meagher at the Principality Stadium

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