Wales 21 England 13: Liam Williams stars as Wales ruin England's Grand Slam hopes
RESILIENT Wales produced a superb display to end England’s Grand Slam hopes in Cardiff tonight and win a record-breaking 12th successive Test match.
The previous record had lasted since 1910; Warren Gatland’s side certainly delivered a performance truly worthy of eclipsing it.
England played their part in a quality Six Nations encounter and led 13-9 in the final quarter only to see the relentless hosts stun them with two tries in the final 12 minutes.
Cory Hill for the first of them in the 68th minute but only after a mammoth effort to break down the indefatigable visitors.
England defended on their own line for fully 34 phases before finally breaking, Jonny May - despite clearly being dazed earlier in the onslaught - doing brilliantly to initially deny Hadleigh Parkes.
Dan Biggar converted from wide out and England - for whom Tom Curry and Courtney Lawes were outstanding - had no comeback.
Instead, Wales - who face Scotland next and are now title favourites - added some polish with Worcester winger Josh Adams superbly rising above Elliot Daly to somehow juggle and then claim Biggar’s crossfield kick two minutes from the end.
It was England’s first loss against Wales in the Six Nations since losing here in 2013.
They led 10-3 at the break but it had been a fiercely contested affair and it was obvious Wales would not wilt.
Indeed, they came out for the second period with renewed vigour, putting England under pressure and steadily eating away at that marginal deficit.
May, the in-form England winger, did wonderfully well to claim Gareth Anscombe’s high kick and evade the initial defender but was then penalised for not releasing.
Anscombe slotted the kick and did so again in the 57th minute after Kyle Sinckler was penalised for a choke-hold tackle around the neck of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones.
Harlequins prop Sinckler had, moments before, checked Anscombe when the Wales fly-half chipped over and it was no surprise when Eddie Jones brought him off after that second incident.
Wales boss Warren Gatland - who coached Sinckler with the British Lions - described him as “emotionally a bit of a time-bomb” during the build-up to this game. That bomb sounded like it was ticking.
When Owen Farrell - of all people - shunted a kick out on the full, the hosts looked like they would capitalise again but Cory Hill failed to take the line-out.
Instead, Manu Tuilagi, the Leicester centre, made a brilliant break, one of in the game, and though Farrell forced a pass, he made up for it by tackling Hadleigh Parkes, Curry getting over the ball to force the penalty for Farrell to make it 13-9 in the 62nd minute.
It would not be enough, though.
The first half, meanwhile, was at times frenetic and utterly absorbing.
Curry, the workaholic Sale Sharks openside who seemed to be everywhere, spotted a rare chink in the Wales defence behind a ruck to surge through for his first Test try in the 27th minute.
The hosts, however, were smarting; moments before, they were driving a line-out of their own 22 only for England lock Lawes to craftily reef the ball back to his side and crucially turn possession to counter.
Lawes, too, was in brilliant form, crunching opponents with regularity and having a number of telling influences.
There was fine contests all over the field, mind, with Gareth Davies harassing Farrell and charging down the England fly-half who so rarely finds himself in trouble.
Sinckler was called upon for a crucial tap-tackle on Liam Williams just as the Wales full-back - man-of-the-match here - was finding top gear in space.
However, Sinckler was later penalised for a no-arms tackle that gifted Gareth Anscombe an easy three points in the 24th minute.
That cancelled out Farrell’s earlier penalty after Sinckler, again, had helped force Wales into collapsing their own scrum in their own 22, but the hosts came home.
Wales: L Williams; North, J Davies, Parkes (Watkin 78), Adams; Anscombe (Biggar 61), G Davies; Evans (Dee 61), Owens (Dee 77), Francis (Smith 61), Hill (Beard 71), Jones, Navidi, Tipuric, Moriarty (Wainwright 77).
England: Daly; Nowell, Slade, Tuilagi, May (Cokanasiga 70); Farrell, Youngs; Moon (Cowie-Dickie 77), George, Sinckler (H Williams 58), Lawes (Shields 77), Kruis (Launchbury 64), Wilson, Curry, Vunipola.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)