|England: (5) 16
|Tries: Earl, Dingwall Pen: Ford 2
|Wales: (14) 14
|Tries: Penalty, Mann Con: Lloyd
England overturned another half-time deficit in the Six Nations to edge past a youthful and spirited Wales side at Twickenham.
As in Rome a week ago, England trailed at the break as Wales claimed a penalty try and an Alex Mann score to threaten a first win at Twickenham since 2015.
Fraser Dingwall scored in the corner to drag England to within a point before George Ford’s penalty sealed victory.
Ford made amends for his failure to convert Ben Earl’s first-half try.
The England fly-half was denied the chance to equalise when he was adjudged to have begun his conversion attempt despite not striding towards the ball as Wales rushed up to foil him.
Victory moves England to the top of the Six Nations table after they maintained their winning start to the tournament, while Wales claimed a losing bonus point and remain fifth despite two opening defeats.
England’s resilience prevails as attack falters
England were back at their Twickenham home and intent on putting on a show for the first time since their World Cup warm-up defeat by Fiji last summer.
Jamie George, in his first home game as captain, had promised greater endeavour in attack, and his side were true to their word in the opening stages as they started brightly.
Freddie Steward broke the line with a surging run in the opening minute and Ford’s kick wide handed them territory as Rio Dyer carried the ball into touch.
But while the ambition was clear to see, the final pass seemed to evade them.
By contrast, Wales had limited possession but scored from their first visit into the England 22 when they were awarded a penalty try for continual English infringements, resulting in Ethan Roots being sent to the sin bin.
Ben Earl powered over from the base of the scrum before controversy ensued with Ford’s conversion attempt. The England number 10 was not still in his set-up and it led to Wales closing him down and keeping their noses in front.
Tommy Reffell was a bright spark for the visitors and his incisive line opened up an England defence still trying to adjust to their new blitz defence as Mann dotted down their second try for a first half-time lead at Twickenham since 1980.
England were much improved after the interval but continued to struggle with their cutting edge in attack. The breakthrough came after a knock-on by the usually assured Josh Adams deep inside Welsh territory.
The hosts and their partisan crowd could smell blood and after the forwards pounded the red wall, the ball was moved wide for Dingwall to cross for his first Test try in the corner.
Ford’s late penalty completed the comeback as England prevailed despite another stuttering attacking display.
Wales show sign of progress but wait for Twickenham win goes on
Head coach Warren Gatland tried to diminish the Twickenham fear factor for Wales before their short trip east, saying he “loved” visiting the home of English rugby.
Wales had not won on their previous seven away games against their fiercest rivals, so perhaps his words were to ease the pressure on his young side, led by 21-year-old captain Dafydd Jenkins.
It seemed to be working early on as, against the predicted English onslaught, Wales stood firm and defended with more resolve than they did during last week’s first-half capitulation against Scotland.
Very little could be done to keep the rampaging Earl out from close range, but they largely kept England at bay in the opening 40 minutes.
It was much of the same after the break as Wales offered little in an attack steered by novice fly-half Ioan Lloyd on his fourth cap, while in defence they managed to contain the blunt England attack.
When Steve Borthwick’s men decided to revert to type and go aerial with the game getting away, however, Adams’ knock-on under the spiral ball proved fatal.
It handed Twickenham and their team a second wind.
With Wales one point ahead but under siege, Mason Grady’s deliberate knock-on to deny an England run-in handed Ford the chance to kick the penalty from in front of the posts and the veteran fly-half duly punished the visitors.
England: Steward; Freeman, Slade, Dingwall, Daly; Ford, Mitchell; Marler, George (capt), Stuart, Itoje, Chessum, Roots, Underhill, Earl.
Replacements: Dan, Genge, Cole, Coles, Cunningham-South, Care, F Smith, Feyi-Waboso
Sin-bin: Chessum (10), Roots (16)
Wales: Winnett; Dyer, North, Tompkins, Adams; Lloyd, Williams; G Thomas, Dee, Assiratti, Jenkins (capt), Beard, Mann, Reffell, Wainwright.
Replacements: Elias, Domachowski, Griffin, Rowlands, Basham, Hardy, Evans, Grady.
Sin-bin: Grady (70)
Referee: James Doleman (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) & Hollie Davidson (Scotland)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)