Wales slumped to an opening Six Nations 30-17 defeat to England at Twickenham. Adam Jones and James Hook may have scored second half tries but it was too little, too late for Warren Gatland’s men.
Wales had hoped to record a fourth successive championship defeat over their arch rivals. But two tries from England flanker James Haskell secured victory for Martin Johnson’s men.
The visitors had the chance to take the lead on six minutes but Hook missed a long-range penalty.
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson made no mistake with close-range strike after 12 minutes while Ryan Jones seemed to be carrying a shoulder injury. The hosts piled on the pressure and Wilkinson’s excellent kick to right corner set up field position.
But England number eight Nick Easter was denied the opening try when he was held up by Gareth Cooper.
Wales held the edge at scrum-time with Paul James winning his battle with opposite number David Wilson. Hook missed second penalty chance on 22 minutes but Stephen Jones made it third time lucky for Wales to level scores as the half hour mark loomed.
But the turning point of an evenly contested first period saw Alun Wyn Jones yellow carded for a silly trip on Dylan Hartley.
Wilkinson capitalised immediately and Wales were on the back foot.
With seconds remaining of the first half, England found the opener when James Haskell dived over after a series of forward drives and Wilkinson’s conversion handed Martin Johnson’s men a 13-3 half-time lead.
The advantage was increased four minutes into the second half when Tom James turned over by Steve Borthwick and space opened for scrum-half Danny Care to score under the posts.
Jones returned and Wales hit back on 48 minutes. Jamie Roberts went close but Cooper combined with lock Jones to supply Adam Jones with the touchdown.
Jones converted but then missed another penalty opportunity as the visitors gained a foothold in the match. Then Hook produced a moment of brilliance to put Wales back into the contest when he fended off three tacklers to crash over. Jones converted and the deficit has been cut to just three points.
Wales chased a winner but they saw their hopes dashed when Jones’ long pass was intercepted by Delon Armitage and Matthew Tait passed to Haskell for his second score and seal victory.