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Aaron Wainwright calls for 80 minutes of energy and accuracy against England

Wales have lost on their last seven visits to Twickenham.

Andrew Baldock
Monday 05 February 2024 13:35 GMT
Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright (Ben Whitley/PA)
Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright (Ben Whitley/PA) (PA Wire)

Aaron Wainwright has highlighted energy and accuracy as key ingredients for Wales when they tackle Guinness Six Nations rivals England at Twickenham.

It is 12 years since Wales beat England away from home in the tournament, a Triple Crown-clinching victory that was secured by centre Scott Williams’ late try.

Wales went on to win the title and secure a Grand Slam that campaign, but apart from their 2015 World Cup pool win, Twickenham has not been a happy hunting ground during recent seasons.

Seven successive defeats – albeit five of them by six points or less – mean that Wales will arrive as underdogs to south-west London next Saturday.

But despite losing a pulsating Six Nations opener 27-26 to Scotland in Cardiff, Wales’ remarkable second-half fightback saw them end the game with two losing bonus points.

Changes can be expected for the England clash, with fit-again centre George North, scrum-half Tomos Williams, hooker Elliot Dee and prop Keiron Assiratti among those likely to come under strong consideration from head coach Warren Gatland.

Given the impact made by Wales’ substitutes – Williams, Dee and Assiratti all went on for the second half and played key roles during a memorable burst of 26 unanswered points – it would be a major surprise if they are not promoted to starting XV duty.

Had Wales defeated Scotland, it would have been the biggest comeback to win a game in Six Nations history, easily surpassing them overturning a 16-point deficit against France in 2019.

And it would also have threatened the all-time Test record held by Korea, courtesy of beating Chile 38-36 eight years ago after they had trailed by 29 points in Santiago.

“Another five minutes, and we probably would have got the win,” Wales number eight and player of the match Wainwright said.

“A game of two halves sums it up perfectly. It was not the start we wanted, but we showed what we can do when we start putting some stuff together.

“We knew we had to keep digging in after they scored early, because there was still a long way to go.

“That was one of the encouraging things – how we kept fighting and put ourselves in with a chance to win. That is going to give us momentum for next week.

“We need to take the energy of the second-half and build that within ourselves, make sure we are ready from the first whistle and make sure it doesn’t take a first-half like that to get going. It will give us confidence.

“Looking back at the second-half performance, if we can replicate that for the full 80 minutes that is exciting.

“They were perhaps panicking a bit, and a bit more composure from us in the dying moments could have turned it. Next weekend we need to go with full energy and accuracy.

“We need to be more accurate. Going for the corner, a tap-play move, we weren’t accurate enough, didn’t keep the ball.

“Whether it is execution or role knowledge, we need to fix that, and doing it from the first whistle will be key.”

Wainwright’s only previous Twickenham appearance was a World Cup warm-up game in 2019 that Wales lost 33-19.

On their last Six Nations visit two years ago, it was a four-point reversal, although Wales went close after trailing by 17-0 at one stage.

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