Wales head coach, Warren Gatland, has labelled England chokers after a stunning second-half performance saw his team score 18 points to take them to a 21-13 victory over heavily-fancied England whose Grand Slam hopes were blown apart.

Instead it is Wales, celebrating a new record of 12 consecutive wins, who have designs on landing their third Grand Slam under Gatland whose record of upsets against England includes a famous World Cup win at Twickenham in 2015 and another Grand Slam-denier against Stuart Lancaster's team two years earlier in Cardiff. It was enough for Gatland, who is the front-runner to succeed Eddie Jones after the World Cup in Japan, to question England's mental strength.

"I look back at England over the past few years and when it has really mattered I question whether they can win these big games," said Gatland.

Warren Gatland. Photo / Mark Mitchell.
Warren Gatland. Photo / Mark Mitchell.

"We've had a record of being pretty good in those. We knew exactly where we were. We said to the players: 'They have no idea what animal is turning up this week,' but we did. We always knew how important this game would be. We went through some pain last week in terms of how hard we trained. The message to the players was that there is no way anyone is training as hard as us.

Advertisement

"I think it paid dividends, not necessarily from a physical point of view but from a mental point of view. We said before we left the hotel that we would win today because we've forgotten how to lose. It was probably one of the best weeks that I've had with the team. I've been involved with a lot of teams and yesterday's captain's run was as good as I've ever seen. The challenge now is not to be complacent and not to drop our levels."

England players embrace following their loss to Wales in their Six Nations rugby union international at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo / AP
England players embrace following their loss to Wales in their Six Nations rugby union international at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. Photo / AP

It is the second time in the tournament that Wales have rallied from a half-time deficit, clawing back 16 points against France and overturning a 10-3 England lead in this match to take their place at the top of the Guinness Six Nations table with a trip to Murrayfield and a final day home match against Ireland to come.

Gatland did have one last barb to deliver on England prop, Kyle Sinckler, whom he labelled an 'emotional time-bomb,' before the game and although the Wales head coach described the Harlequins' tighthead as a 'fantastic footballer,' he also added that 'he does have a few demons to deal with.'

Jones rejected Gatland's assessment even though he substituted Sinckler in the 55th minute after the prop had given away a couple of penalties. "I didn't know Warren had a degree in clinical psychology so let me know I might go and see him as well," said Jones who made a plea for Sinckler to be cut some slack. "I know you guys want to single him out because Warren said what he said but don't be unfair to him. He's a young player on the way up. Look after him a bit."

England's head coach Eddie Jones watches his players warm-up before the Six Nations rugby union international between England and France at Twickenham. Photo / AP
England's head coach Eddie Jones watches his players warm-up before the Six Nations rugby union international between England and France at Twickenham. Photo / AP

Jones highlighted England's weaknesses in the air and in the penalty count as the reason behind their surprise defeat. They can still win the title if Wales slip as their final two games are both at Twickenham against Italy and Scotland.

"We'll be chasing Wales," said Jones. "Everyone is smiling here at the moment but there is always another day and another dollar so we'll see what the lie of the land is after Italy. The world hasn't ended. We'll learn from today. We weren't quite good enough but there is no embarrassment in that."

Jones also has injury issues with news that co-captain, Northampton hooker, Dylan Hartley, who has not played since just before Christmas due to a knee injury, is to have surgery on Tuesday and is set to be out of action for three months.