Williams steals the show
Wales centre crosses late on to end Lancaster's unbeaten start
Last Updated: 25/02/12 11:34pm
A piece of individual brilliance from replacement Scott Williams proved the difference as Wales beat England 19-12 at Twickenham.
Wales, whose win bagged them the Triple Crown, were never ahead in a hard-fought match until Williams crossed under posts five minutes from time.
England marshalled by Owen Farrell and ably assisted by Lee Dickson on his first start, soaked up early pressure and kept their noses ahead for long periods and were, in the end, unfortunate not to earn a share of the spoils.
But despite interim coach Stuart Lancaster watching his side lose for the first time under his tenure, once again they stepped up on their previous performance to give further encouragement for the future.
The opening quarter was a messy, bruising affair with neither side able to command authority, but it was Wales who dominated possession even if they could do little with it.
From clean lineout ball, Mike Phillips launched a blistering attacking with a slick inside pass for George North who cut through the England line and was only halted by a desperate tap tackle from David Strettle.
Wales recycled quickly, a feature of their game in the opening minutes, and Priestland chipped in behind Chris Ashton for Alex Cuthbert to chase but the ball just skipped dead.
England wasted their first attacking platform with a crooked lineout throw from Dylan Hartley before Wales quickly moved back into red rose territory.
Chris Robshaw did well to steal a Welsh lineout 10 metres out and Strettle was inches away from picking off a pass from Alun Wyn Jones.
But England scarcely had any possession. What ball they had was kicked but they could not relieve the pressure as Wales built through 18 phases before earning a scrum and then a penalty.
But when Halfpenny was handed the first chance to get the scoreboard moving, his kick never looked like going over.
Wales had had 64 percent of the territory 20 minutes in, but England's tight defence had kept their backs quiet, and the Twickenham crowd finally came alive following a break from Dickson down the left.
Tuilagi was twice involved in carrying the ball forward and when Wales were caught offside Farrell gave England a surprise lead, after first attempting a drop-goal that went past the right post.
But the lead lasted precisely one minute - Robshaw unable to release while on the floor and Halfpenny this time making no mistake.
England were soon back on the attack and showing plenty of flair, Tuilagi brought down by Sam Warburton with the line in his sight, and after Ashton also came up short the penalty was awarded and Farrell gave them the lead once more.
The hosts were right back in the match with the crowd behind them and a chip over the top almost sent Farrell away before being brought abruptly to a halt by a shuddering tackle from North.
Wales cleared their lines but David Strettle opted to counter attack instead of kicking upfield, and when he was caught in no-man's land it was inevitable that Wales would get the penalty, which Halfpenny kicked with conviction.
The action was coming thick and fast and Priestland turned the ball over in his own 22, Ashton failed to find Mauritz Botha but Wales had transgressed and Farrell made no mistake to send England into the break with a 9-6 lead.
Williams came on for the injured Jamie Roberts but England came out with fire in their bellies and after making good ground Priestland took too much time in clearing the ball - Botha playing the Charlie Hodgson role in charging down, only for Priestland to then take him out from an offside position.
The Wales stand-off earned a 10-minute rest in the sin-bin for his pains, from where he watched Farrell nudge his fourth penalty of the game to double the lead.
Back came Wales - Jonathan Davies racing out of the defensive line to crash into Tuilagi, catching England behind the gainline and Wales followed up to earn a penalty, which Halfpenny converted.
England made changes on the hour - Ben Youngs on for Dickson and Courtney Lawes for Botha - before Farrell narrowly missed a chance to extend the lead to six once more.
The young fly-half limped off on 65 minutes and it sparked a period of pressure for Wales, Alex Cuthbert taking it inside five metres but failed to offload with a man over.
But they were rewarded when England were penalised for hands in the ruck on 72 minutes - Halfpenny levelling the scores.
Wales left the best until last. Out of nowhere, Lawes was stripped of the ball in midfield by Williams, who kicked ahead and successfully gathered before beating Robshaw to crash over under the posts, Halfpenny adding the extras.
England would not lie down though, Farrell's replacement Flood conjuring something out of nothing with a chip-kick that almost put Strettle in at the right corner, the ball eluding both he and North.
There was still time for drama, Flood looping a pass for replacement Mike Brown to feed Strettle, who charged for the line only to be held up by two defenders, confirmed by the video referee.