|Wales (7) 13|
|Tries: J Williams Con: Halfpenny Pens: Biggar 2|
|England (11) 24|
|Tries: Slade, M Vunipola Con: Farrell Pens: Farrell 4|
England booked their place in the Autumn Nations Cup final with a 24-13 victory over an improved Wales in Llanelli.
Wales opened the scoring with a runaway try from centre Johnny Williams before a score from Henry Slade and two Owen Farrell penalties gave the visitors a 11-7 half-time lead.
Mako Vunipola added a second-half try, while Farrell finished with 14 points.
It was a seventh defeat in nine games for Wales head coach Wayne Pivac who at least saw a more encouraging display.
The heavy England victory predicted by many never materialised, but the win for Eddie Jones’ men saw them finish top of Group A.
This means they will compete for the title of this new tournament against the winner of Group B on 6 December at Twickenham. France will emerge victorious in the other group if they beat Italy later on Saturday.
Wales, who lost to Ireland before beating Georgia, currently lie in third place, and are likely to face Italy next weekend. Ireland face Georgia in the final pool match on Sunday.
The teams were poles apart coming into the match with England second in the world and Wales slumping in ninth.
Pivac’s first match in charge was almost exactly a year ago with victory in an uncapped fixture against Barbarians, but since then he has presided over only two victories, against Georgia and Italy.
Following Warren Gatland’s departure, the decline from 2019 Grand Slam champions and World Cup semi-finalists later that year has been dramatic.
Eddie Jones’ men clinched the 2020 Six Nations title in October and have carried their impressive form into this first Autumn Nations Cup, demolishing Georgia before overpowering Ireland at Twickenham last weekend.
The game was played in the backdrop of the strange surroundings of a Parc y Scarlets hosting a Wales and England encounter with no fans.
The Llanelli ground has become Wales’ temporary home while Cardiff’s Principality Stadium is decommissioned as a coronavirus field hospital.
So one of the most explosive rivalries was reduced to this raw rugby experience. It was hard to recall such a lack of hype surrounding this fixture and very few expectations Wales could win.
In the one example of pre-match verbals, Jones warned Wales that England would bring an intensity they had never before faced.
A settled England side only saw one personnel change with fly-half George Ford returning to the starting side with centre Ollie Lawrence injured. Farrell switched to inside centre with Henry Slade making up the midfield.
Wales have been more disrupted this autumn and made eight changes with scrum-half Lloyd Williams making his first international start for four years, partnering Dan Biggar at half-back.
Centre Johnny Williams and flanker James Botham kept their places in the team after making debuts in the 18-0 win over Georgia and teenage wing Louis Rees-Zammit was handed a second start.
It was an unfamiliar line-up with experienced campaigners Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams, Josh Navidi, Ken Owens, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty injured.
England’s scrum advantage
Wales prop Samson Lee conceded an early scrum penalty which Farrell missed before Wales took the lead against the run of play after the hosts had shown early resilience in defence.
Biggar charged down a kick from Slade before hacking the ball on for former England Under-20s centre Johnny Williams to score.
The score was checked by the television match official and referee Romain Poite kept to his decision of a legal Biggar chargedown. Halfpenny converted.
England struck back immediately with good work from Itoje, Sam Underhill and Kyle Sinckler before Slade strolled over while referee Poite ignored claims of Biggar being taken out in the air in the build-up, despite protestations from Wales and being reminded about the incident by the TMO.
Farrell again missed the conversion before Halfpenny failed with a long-range penalty attempt.
The England captain slotted over his first successful kick to give his side the lead before Elliot Daly put in a thumping legal tackle on Adams to typify the first-half ferocity.
Wales prop Lee found himself on the wrong side of Poite and Farrell gave England a 11-7 half-time advantage following another scrum penalty.
England bench suffocates Wales
Poor Wales set-piece play with a crooked Elias line-out throw and creaking scrum gave England an early advantage with Lee replaced by Tomas Francis.
Wales responded with some dynamic defence to repel the England attacking maul.
The hosts were under constant pressure and Faletau was carried over the Wales line by England flankers Sam Underhill and Tom Curry.
This laid the foundations for the almost inevitable second try with attritional forward play finished off by Mako Vunipola and converted by Farrell.
The speedy Rees-Zammit showed how dangerous he is with rare possession and Biggar slotted over two penalties as Wales threatened a revival.
England absorbed this and Farrell restored the visitors’ dominance with two penalties.
The England replacements bench including six forwards made a telling difference in the final quarter as Wales were eventually suffocated.
Player of the match: Sam Underhill
The England flanker had a hand in both tries with his dynamic defence and is a key man in a very competitive back-row.
Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, Tompkins, J Williams, Rees-Zammit; Biggar, L Williams; W Jones, Elias, Lee, Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Lewis-Hughes, Botham, Faletau.
Replacements: Dee for Elias (48), Carre for W Jones (70), Francis for Lee (43), Rowlands for Ball (49), Wainwright for Lewis-Hughes (52), Webb for L Williams (49), Sheedy for Halfpenny (67), Watkin for Tompkins (74).
England: Daly; Joseph, Slade, Farrell, May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler, Itoje, Launchbury, Curry, Underhill, Vunipola.
Replacements: Cowan-Dickie for George (67), Genge for M Vunipola (67), Stuart for Sinckler (72), Hill for Launchbury (67), Earl for Underhill (74), J Willis for Curry (61), Robson for Youngs (76), Watson for Joseph (52).