England ‘staying in the fight’ in Six Nations victories – Borthwick

England ‘staying in the fight’ in Six Nations victories – Borthwick

England head coach Steve Borthwick hailed his side’s resolve after their 16-14 win over Wales at Twickenham on Saturday as they remain unbeaten in the Six Nations.

Just as in Rome against Italy on the opening weekend, England weren’t perfect but found a way to win.

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The visitors held a 14-5 lead at the break as England faced another uphill battle, but Borthwick was pleased with the grit his side showed to fight back and close out a nervous last ten minutes.

“I think the first think we take is there’s a team here that stays in the fight and finds a way,” Borthwick told a post-match news conference.

“The biggest lesson here is the trait players are developing in themselves, which is one of staying in the fight.”

Jamie George won his first game at Twickenham as permanent England captain . Photo by Patrick Khachfe/Getty Images

Borthwick was pleased with the way England corrected themselves in the second half after they gave six penalties away in the first half to put themselves under pressure.

“Disappointingly we had penalty count which was 6-0 at half-time and two sin-bins,” Borthwick said. “Ultimately having put up with all that at 37, 38 minutes it was 7-5 and could have been 7-all.

“We only conceded one penalty in the second half. So we conceded eight penalties last week and seven this week, which is the targets we discussed.

“It was Maro Itoje who set the target of 7 penalties this week. Maro set the target and the players achieved it.”

The England boss wouldn’t be drawn on the most controversial moment of the match, when Wales charged down George Ford’s conversion attempt following Ben Earl’s try.

“We’re well aware of what the situation was in the first half, we’re well aware of that decision,” Borthwick said.

Captain Jamie George made a point before the game of wanting to lift the Twickenham atmosphere, and while he was pleased with the support they received, he accepts his side need to keep improving to give the fans something to cheer about.

“I loved it, I loved every second of it. From the walk in to the final whistle, walking around, the fans seemed like they had a good day out. Ultimately that’s what we wanted to do,” George said.

“Did we want to put a better performance onto the field? Of course, but you’ll have sat in enough press conferences where teams are saying ‘we could be better.’

“We felt a huge amount of pride and noise coming from the stands. That’s what we love.”

While England have won both of their opening fixtures in this year’s tournament, Wales return home after another narrow loss but with plenty to show for.

“It’s pretty disappointing really. I’m proud of the performance and the effort of the players out there but we’re disappointed we didn’t come away with the win” Wales coach Warren Gatland said.

“It’s part of the journey we’re on in terms of developing as a team. I said to the players in the changing room that we have to be disappointed by that, we put ourselves in a position where we should have won that game.”

Gatland pleaded with Welsh fans to be patient with his inexperienced side as they rebuild following the loss of several key players.

“I said to the players we’re not there but we’re going to be a bloody good team going forward. And today was part of that process in terms of learning about game management,” he said.

“I’m really proud of the effort. My message to the Welsh public have a bit of patience. Hopefully people on the outside can see what we’re trying to do as a squad.”

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