"I feel like I could fly right now," said Wales Captain Gareth Thomas. "We've been on the other side, the ones losing by narrow margins so it's a relief."
The pre-match atmosphere was electric as the biggest Welsh crowd in the tournament's history, 74,197, roared their way through the well-established song sheet. Narrow defeats to South Africa and New Zealand in November had raised expectations and the players responded by starting at a furious pace.
Jones missed his first shot at goal after eight minutes but the disappointment was short lived as Wales scored an excellent try two minutes later. The move began when England hooker Steve Thompson sent a lineout throw straight into the arms of flanker Martyn Williams. It continued across to the opposite wing and then back again to be finished off as the fleet-footed Williams squeezed round Mark Cueto in the corner.
Charlie Hodgson replied with a penalty for England but a Jones penalty made it 8-3 after twenty-three minutes.
Both teams were reduced to fourteen men six minutes before the break when England lock Danny Grewcock caught scrumhalf Dwayne Peel with a wild boot at a ruck and Thomas charged in to remonstrate. The incident halted a Wales attack that had seen them hammering the English line but the visitors failed to take full advantage of the reprieve when Hodgson sent a straightforward penalty horribly wide to leave the halftime score 8-3.
Wales had led at half time in the teams' Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash and early in the second half of their last Cardiff meeting, only for England to storm back to win both. This, however, is a very different England, with the likes of Martin Johnson and Lawrence Dallaglio retired and Jonny Wilkinson and Will Greenwood injured, they were without a guiding hand on the tiller.
The new-look centre partnership of Jamie Noon and teenage debutant Mathew Tait were outgunned by Tom Shanklin and Henson, who justified all the pre-match hype with a wonderful all-round display, while the forwards were never able to wrestle control. Hodgson did narrow the gap in the forty-eight minute with a penalty, while Jones missed an easy attempt ten minutes later. England then enjoyed their best spell and were rewarded when Hodgson slotted another penalty in the seventieth minute to earn a 9-8 lead.
Wales roared back and piled the pressure on with a siege of the England line. The white shirts held out but eventually buckled to be penalised again. The crowd roared for Henson and Thomas, after a check with Jones, threw him the ball. Henson then did as all Wales was willing him to do by sending the forty metre effort sailing between the posts.
When the final whistle sounded the crowd erupted to signal the start of a night to remember in the Welsh Capital.
"It's been amazing today," said Wales Coach Mike Ruddock. "We are in amongst the big guns at last."
"Wales deserved to win and we just have to take it on the chin," said England Coach Andy Robinson. "We struggled with field position. We struggled to get past two or three phases and you have to give credit to the Welsh defence for that."
Robinson has six days to find the answers with France arriving at Twickenham while Wales will look to consolidate against Italy in Rome.