Classic Match: Wales complete stunning comeback at Twickenham

Wales made history as they claimed their first win at Twickenham for 20 years with a remarkable second-half comeback to beat England 26-19 in the classic Six Nations clash from 2008.

Wales made history as they claimed their first win at Twickenham for 20 years with a remarkable second-half comeback to beat England 26-19 in the classic Six Nations clash from 2008.

On the opening day of the Championship, Wales launched their campaign in stunning style as they ended their wait for a win at the Home of English Rugby before going on to clinch the Grand Slam.


With their winless record in south-west London stretching back to 1988, history was against Wales and Warren Gatland ahead of his first game as the country’s new head coach.

The Kiwi was named as the man to replace Gareth Jenkins in November 2007, signing a four-year contract.

Meanwhile, England were coming off a remarkable World Cup campaign, which saw them only just reach the knock out stages before losing out in a closely fought final to South Africa.


England went for a mixture of youth and experience for their Championships opener, whereas new head coach Warren Gatland selected 13 Ospreys in his starting XV.

Only Mark Jones of Llanelli infiltrated an all-Osprey back division, with the re-emergent Martyn Williams supplementing the pack and Stephen Jones and Tom Shanklin on the bench.

The headline decisions for England saw Jonny Wilkinson preferred to Danny Cipriani at fly-half, Iain Balshaw edging out Mathew Tait at full-back and Nick Easter making way for Luke Narraway at No.8.


The first 40 minutes went largely to script as England dominated Wales, with Wilkinson’s boot and a Toby Flood try giving the hosts a 16-6 lead going into the break.

England took the lead within a minute as Martyn Williams conceded a penalty straight from the kick-off, which Wilkinson knocked over with ease.

James Hook quickly levelled the scores for Wales before Wilkinson added a further six points with the boot from a second penalty and a drop goal in front of the posts.

Wilkinson then pressed home England’s advantage, launching a cross-kick for debutant Lesley Vainikolo who outjumped Mark Jones and offloaded to Flood to score the first try.

But despite England extending their lead at the start of the second half to 19-6, the hosts went on to concede 20 unanswered points in the space of 13 minutes.

Full-back Lee Byrne and scrum-half Mike Phillips scored tries to change the balance of a gripping encounter, while fly-half Hook added a further ten points to his two first-half penalties.

While England did suffer a quadruple injury setback, with David Strettle, Lewis Moody, Mike Tindall and Tom Rees all being forced off, few expected such a turnaround in fortunes.


“I don’t know what happened, and I won’t until I sit down and talk to the people involved,” said England head coach Brian Ashton.

“All I know is that we said we wouldn’t feed the Welsh and ended up taking out all the food we had and putting it on a plate for them.

Speaking after making his debut at Wales coach, Warren Gatland said: “I was disappointed with the first half, but we re-grouped at half time and hung in there.

“As the game went on I think we got stronger and the guys got a bit of self-belief and confidence. It ended up being a great result for us.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do but hopefully we’ll get better as this competition goes on.”

Wales star Ryan Jones added: “I can’t think of the words. It’s the most fantastic day of my career. I’m so proud and after the effort of the last two weeks we thoroughly deserve it.”

England 19-26 Wales Twickenham Stadium Saturday 2 February 2008   England: Balshaw, Sackey, Tindall, Flood, Strettle, Wilkinson, Gomarsall, Sheridan, Regan, Vickery, Shaw, Borthwick, Haskell, Moody, Narraway, Rees Replacements: Cipriani for Tindall (64), Vainikolo for Strettle (13), Mears for Regan (58), Stevens for Vickery (69), Rees for Moody (14), Kay for Rees (41) Not Used: Wigglesworth

Wales: Byrne, M Jones, Parker, Henson, S Williams, Hook, Phillips, A Jones, Bennett, D Jones, A Jones, Gough, J Thomas, M Williams, R Jones Replacements: Shanklin for Parker (46), Jenkins for A Jones (46), Rees for Bennett (58), Evans for A Jones (78), Popham for J Thomas (13) Not Used: Cooper, S. Jones

Att: 82,000 Ref: Craig Joubert (South Africa)