England came through a torrid test of character at Twickenham to beat Wales 12-6, setting a new Championship record for successive home wins (15), although they got the benefit of the doubt on a controversial TMO decision that ruled against a 23rd-minute touchdown by Gareth Anscombe.
Wales head coach Warren Gatland hit out at the decision by New Zealand official Glenn Newman, believing that it could have cost his side a victory that they deserved on the run of play.
"Guys have to get those decisions right," said Gatland. "It looked like a try to me and everyone else I have spoken to has said it looked like a clear try. It was such a big decision in the game. You fly a guy over from New Zealand and he has one big call to make. I think he has made a terrible mistake. You could see on the replay that Anscombe got there first. He put his hand on the ball and grounded it. I just struggled with the wording (heard on the Ref Link). He said England got there first and there was no downward pressure from Wales. Gareth got there first (ahead of Anthony Watson)."
England were already 12-0 up at that point courtesy of two tries from Leicester wing Jonny May. Eddie Jones praised the "courage and heart" of his team as they managed to stem a spirited Wales revival. Not surprisingly, the England head coach did not find issue with the TMO decision.
"I am not getting into that – the TMO has all the time in the world to make his decision," said Jones. "It is one part of the game that we have done really well. We have got a guy up there who is a referee and he has got time to make a decision. If he can't make the right decision then what do we do?"
Gatland also felt that England should have had a man sent to the sin bin in the closing stages.
"Mike Brown should have had a yellow for stopping Aled Davies from passing the ball," said Gatland. "All we got was a penalty. It would have been England down to 14 men with a few minutes to go."
Once again England managed to find a way to win even though they were under the cosh for long stretches of the second half, taking their record under Jones to 24 wins in 25 Tests. There was a notable try-saving tackle from Sam Underhill on the hour mark, the Bath back-row forward managing to somehow get to Wales outside centre Scott Williams as he looked to slide in for a try.
"Test match rugby is about players that are tough," said Jones. "It is different from club rugby and different from European rugby. It showed that we can be in an arm-wrestle and we can find a way to win. That is an important habit to have. That win was built on courage and a lot of belief. Our application was first-class. Test matches are won and lost on key moments and that Sam Underhill tackle was one of those key moments."
England have injury concerns over No 8 Sam Simmonds and wing Anthony Watson ahead of their trip to Murrayfield on February 24 for the Calcutta Cup, while Wales hope that full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who withdrew prior to kick-off with an infected foot, will be fit for their game against Ireland in Dublin.
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