WALES 9 ENGLAND 26
Welsh rugby can hold its head up once again thanks to the fantastic effort of Jonathan Humphreys and his men against the world's top ranked side at the Millennium Stadium.
Those proud Welsh fans who had turned up fearing the worst against Martin Johnson's mighty white army were treated to a level of performance they had feared the men in red weren't capable of following the 30-22 defeat in Italy.
But Welsh coach Steve Hansen's eight changes made a huge impact on the side and the no frills approach against the top ranked side in the world created a contest in which Wales always gave as good as they got.
From start to finish the Welsh side pounded into the English and by the end the Grand Slam hopefuls had lost Jason Robinson, Ben Kay and Jonny Wilkinson as casualties of war.
Two tries in the third quarter finally undid the gallant Welsh effort, but Johnson's side left the Welsh capital well aware they had been in a hell of a battle as they took their second step towards a possible Grand Slam.
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The whole of the Welsh nation had demanded more passion from their team after the debacle in Rome and returning skipper Jonathan Humphreys ensured there was plenty of hwyl.
The crowd sang Tom Jones' 'Delilah' with Wembley-style fervour and after a roof lifting rendition of the national anthem the scene was set for some heoric deeds from the men in red.
After the hesitancy of a week ago against Italy, there was urgency whenever a white shirt came close. The tackling was ferocious, the determination supreme and Humphreys' men turned in a first 40 minutes that must have made England manager Clive Woodward sit up and take notice, and certainly had every Welsh man, woman and child bursting with pride.
The points avalanche that the masses of England fans who had turned up in Cardiff had come to witness just never materilased as Wales refused to be bullied out of proceedings by Johnson's bruising pack. They simply met fire with fire in every phase.
Wales got off to a flying start when Gareth Thomas set the tackloing trend with a crunching effort on Jason Robinson to win an early penalty. New outside half Ceri Sweeney, who grew in stature as the half wore on, didn't go for goal with that one, but three minutes later he had the crowd on its feet when he hit the mark from 40 metres.
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England just couldn't get their hands on the ball and get their phase game going in the first quarter and the resistance their were finding was further epitomised by Tom Shanklin's crunching tackle on Dan Luger as the Harlequins wing came flying into the back line.
Not only did Shanklin stop him dead in his tracks, but he upended him and dumped him into the Millennium Stadium turf. They shall not pass!
Unfortunately, the Welsh forwards ruined Shanklin's good work by giving away a penalty and Jonny Wilkinson levelled the scores with his first kick.
It was the English outside half who kept his side in the game as the half wore on as he dropped two goals after Kiwi referee Steve Walsh had indicated penalties for England at rucks. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and the only surprise was when the Newcastle No 10 missed with a 30 metre penalty.
Sweeney landed a second penalty in between those two drop goals to make it 6-6 after 22 mintues, and he was narrowly wide with the last kick of the half.
But by then Wales should have been ahead after a brillinat break through the middle by Lions centre Mark Taylor. Having done the hard work by barging off both England centres 40 metres out and then accelerating for the line.
Wilkinson couldn't catch him and, with Kevin Morgan and Rhys Williams outside him, the first try looked all set. But Ben Cohen and Robinson converged on him five metres out and instead of passing before the tackle he went to ground and tried to pop the ball up to his Swansea team mate Morgan.
The Welsh full back knocked on with the line at his mercy and the chance went begging. But Wales maintained their momentum and a sweet Sweeney cross kick aimed at Gareth Thomas caused mayhem in the English defence.
Robinson had limped off following his tackle on Taylor and Bristol wing Phil Christophers had taken his place. He tackled Gareth Thomas without the ball and was sent to the sin-bin less than a minute after taking the field.
Sweeney missed with the penalty attempt inside the England 22, but at least Wales had ended the half on a high.
But the second half began differently. Wales maintained their pressure, but two missed tackles by Gavin Thomas and Steve Williams allowed Will Greenwood to barge his way over for the first try six mintues after the break - his sixth against Wales. Wilkinson added the conversion and all of a sudden the poise had returned to the English game.
England had tried to spread the ball as wide as possible in the first half, but always found a Welsh defender ahead of them, but after the break they began to find space.With Wilkinson pulling the strings, the visitors suddenly found the precision they had lacked in the first-half.
The statistics show that a team at international level that loses a player to the sin-bin normally concedes seven points, but Wales failed to punish Christophers for his misdemeanour at the end of the first half and when he returned his side were well in control.
After that Greenwood burst the Welsh tackling notably began to wither and the English runners made more and more ground. It also led to the Welsh forwards giving more penalties away in the loose.
Mr Walsh had already warned Humphreys about hands in the ruck in the first half and he finally lost his patience when Steve Williams went over the top at a ruck after 55 minutes. He was sent to the sin-bin and England immediately punished Wales.
Ben Kay soared high at the line-out, Lawrence Dallaglio charged into the 22 and then Kyran Bracken had a dart for the line. When he was held up, replacement back row man Joe Worsley celebrated his recent arrival with a simple touch down which Wilkinson improved with another close range conversion.
That score virtually put the game out of reach of gallant Wales, but there was no chance of the capitulation that the fans had witnessed in Rome. Instead, the side galvanised itself as Hansen rung the changes.
With almost an hour played, the Welsh coach called off the valliant Humphreys, Gavin Thomas and Ben Evans and sent fresh legs on in the shape of Gareth Williams, Colin Charvis and Gethin Jenkins.
They made an immediate impact and next to score were the Welsh.
A typical Gareth Thomas driving run through the heavy artillery into the English 22 where Steve Thompson conceded a penalty. Sweeney took the simple points and Wales had reaped some reward for their efforts.
But Wilkinson was in no mood to be outdone and he took his personal tally up to 16 points with a penalty 10 minutes from time that showed England were still full of respect for their hosts.
Iestyn Harris and Matthew Watkins came on in the closing minutes for the injured Rhys Williams and Tom Shanklin and Watkins almost broke clear.
Wales ended on the attack as they exploded the myth of the side not being fit enough to compete with England.
Wales; K Morgan; G Thomas, M Taylor, T Shanklin (M Watkins 65), R Williams (I Harris 66); C Sweeney, G Cooper; I Thomas, J Humphreys (capt, G Williams 57), B Evans (G Jenkins 57), R Sidoli, S Williams (G Llewellyn 72), D Jones, M Williams, Gavin Thomas (C Charvis 57)
Scorers; Pens - C Sweeney 3;
England; J Robinson (P Christophers 39); D Luger (A Gomarsall 72), W Greenwood, C Hodgson, B Cohen; J Wilkinson (J Simpson-Daniel 77), K Bracken; G Rowentree, S Thompson, R Morris, M Johnson (capt), B Kay (D Grewcock 63), R Hill (J Simpson-Daniel 41-50), N Back (J Worsley 55), L Dallaglio,
Scorers; Tries - W Greenwood, J Worsley;
Cons - J Wilkinson 2; Pens - J Wilkinson 2, Dgs - J Wilkinson 2
Referee: Steve Walsh (New Zealand)