Farrell sent off as England narrowly beat Wales

Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell was initially shown a yellow card before the new ‘Bunker’ review system upgraded the decision to a sending off
England (6) 19
Try: Itoje Con: Ford Pens: Farrell 3, Ford
Wales (0) 17
Try: Penalty, T Williams Con: Biggar Pen: O Williams

England captain Owen Farrell could miss their World Cup opener against Argentina after being sent off in their warm-up win over Wales at Twickenham.

Farrell became the first England player to have a yellow card upgraded to a red by the new ‘Bunker’ review system, after a high tackle on Taine Basham.

Tomos Williams scored after a penalty try to hand Wales the lead with three England players in the sin bin.

Maro Itoje’s try cut the deficit and George Ford kicked the winning penalty.

Farrell kicked three penalties in a scrappy Test match in which neither side was close to their best as England looked to avenge last week’s defeat by Wales in Cardiff.

Wales reduced England’s lead to a couple of points with a penalty try as Freddie Steward tackled Josh Adams in the air before the game sparked into life with Farrell’s red card.

The newly introduced ‘Bunker’ review system for foul play, which is being used during the Summer Nations Series, was called into action as on-field referee Nika Amashukeli could not decide if Farrell’s tackle on Basham warranted a straight red card.

He was initially shown a yellow card and took his place in a chair on the touchline before later being shown a red card and sent down the tunnel into the bowels of England’s headquarters.

Wales cut loose with Steward, Farrell and 50th cap winner Ellis Genge all off the field as Tomos Williams scored a simple run-in to threaten a first Welsh win at Twickenham since the 2015 World Cup.

Urged on by a vocal home support, England quickly responded and Itoje was the beneficiary at the back of the rolling maul to end England’s two hours and 34 minute wait for a try since Jamie George’s consolation against Ireland in Dublin at the end of the Six Nations.

Ford kicked the winning penalty a few moments later as England ended their run of three defeats in a row, but any pleasure the home side take from the win will be offset by the prospect of a likely ban for their experienced skipper.

England end losing run at what expense?

This was not a vintage England performance as they continued their preparations for this year’s showpiece in France but the victory was important to boost morale.

Steve Borthwick’s men returned to Twickenham for the first time since their humbling by France in the Six Nations and struggled for attacking cohesion early on as they made 11 changes to the side beaten in Cardiff last weekend.

Farrell’s boot handed them the advantage but Ollie Lawrence’s powerful run, as he cut back inside and shrugged off Tom Rogers with an outstretched palm, was a rare moment of incision.

England lacked discipline – with Henry Arundell also sent to the bin in the first-half – but showed resilience to recover from a losing situation to wrestle back momentum and clinch victory.

More important than warm-up results and performances, however, is the ability to come through a pre-tournament schedule unscathed and Borthwick will be concerned at the potential loss of half-back pairing Farrell and Jack van Poortvliet.

The scrum-half had to be supported as he hobbled off the pitch before later emerging on the sidelines in crutches, while Farrell’s fate now lies in the hands of a disciplinary panel, who will determine the length of any ban and whether there were any mitigating factors.

Gatland will be concerned at defeat from winning position

Gareth Griffiths, BBC Sport Wales

For Wales, it was a completely different side at Twickenham from the one which overcame England last week with centre Joe Roberts handed a first cap.

The Scarlets back impressed in setting-up Tomos William’s second-half try, while experienced full-back Liam Williams demonstrated his Test talents once again in his first game in five months.

It should also have been a chance for new captain Dewi Lake to showcase his leaderships skills but the hooker was forced off after 26 minutes after injuring his knee at a ruck.

Lake’s injury adds to Wales’ concerns at hooker after Ryan Elias was forced off the field with a hamstring injury during the win in Cardiff.

Lake, playing his first international for 13 months after missing the 2022 autumn internationals and 2023 Six Nations through injury, was replaced by fellow Ospreys hooker Sam Parry.

Elliot Dee is the other hooker in Wales’ extended training squad with Ken Owens out of at least the World Cup group stages with a back injury.

Like their hosts, Wales failed to play with a freedom until veteran fly-half Dan Biggar came on to steer the ship. It was his pin-point cross-field kick that found Adams, who was illegally brought down by Steward for the penalty try.

Gatland will be concerned that Wales conceded Itoje’s try while having a three-player advantage as they let their 17-9 lead slip, and will want his charges to quickly respond in their next warm-up match against world champions South Africa back in Cardiff next Saturday.


England: Steward; Arundell, Marchant, Lawrence, Daly; Farrell (capt), Van Poortvliet; Marler, George, Stuart, Itoje, Martin, Lawes, Earl, B Vunipola.

Replacements: Dan, Genge, Cole, Hill, Willis, Youngs, Ford, Malins.

Wales: L Williams; Adams, Roberts, Tompkins, Rogers; O Williams, T Williams; G Thomas, Lake (capt), Francis, Beard, R Davies, Lydiate, Reffell, Plumtree.

Replacements: Parry, Mathias, Lewis, Tshiunza, Basham, G Davies, Biggar, K Williams.

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