Steve Borthwick: England a side that stays in the fight | 'I didn't hear Twickenham crowd discontent'

February 10, 2024

Steve Borthwick praised his England side as one that "stays in the fight and finds a way", adding he did not hear any discontent from the Twickenham crowd as to their performance.

England turned a nine-point deficit around to edge past Wales 16-14 in the Six Nations via a George Ford penalty with eight minutes to play on Saturday, after tries from Ben Earl and Fraser Dingwall.

The tight win comes off the back of England's narrowest-ever victory over Italy last week (27-24), but was achieved despite first-half yellow cards to Ollie Chessum (high tackle) and Ethan Roots (maul collapse).

When asked if he had heard some of the disgruntlement in the stands at Twickenham as England went in 14-5 behind to a hugely inexperienced Wales side, Borthwick said he didn't.

"I didn't hear that, to be honest. What I saw was a support base that stuck with this team in finding a way through that game," Borthwick said at his post-match press conference.

"The first thing we can take from that is we're a team that stays in the fight and finds a way.

"Was there improvements in that from last weekend? Yes there was, and it shows the work we're doing and the players are doing each day is paying dividends.

"But the biggest lesson here is the trait the players are developing in themselves: which is they stay in the fight.

"You look at that first half and the team did a lot of good things. Disappointingly, we had a penalty count which was 6-0 at half-time, and two sin-bins.

"Ultimately, and having put up with all that, we're then 7-5 down on the scoreboard on 38 minutes and realistically could have been level at 7-7.

"Wales then scored a great try, and with the amount we had to defend being with 13 men, what I sensed at half-time was calm, composed, great leadership from Jamie [George] and a determination to find a way in the second half.

"We were well aware of what the situation was in that first half, we were well aware of that decision [George Ford charged conversion]. We conceded one penalty in the second half, we found a way."

England skipper Jamie George pointed to England's improvements in defence, and cited progress.

"There was definitely progress off the back of last week," George said.

"There were so many times in that first half in particular where our defence was under pressure and we were down numbers, and we still had the ability to get off the line.

"Our ability to keep going, keep putting them under pressure, defending multi-phase, we felt comfortable in that.

"It wasn't exactly how we wanted it to go. I'd prefer to keep 15 men on the field against Wales at Twickenham. That would be nice.

"But the fight and the character, the sort of team we want to be, to come out on the positive end of that result is a huge thing for us."

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