Anthony Watson admitted that England’s players only had themselves to blame after suffering their second defeat of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations at the hands of Wales.
The defending champions trailed Wales 17-14 at the break after Watson’s first-half score helped the Red Rose stay in touch following tries from Josh Adams and Liam Williams.
Kieran Hardy’s try after the restart extended Wales’ lead before England levelled the game at 24-24 thanks to Owen Farrell’s boot and Ben Youngs crossing the whitewash.
But the fightback proved to be in vain after Callum Sheedy’s nerveless kicking and Cory Hill’s late try saw the hosts triumph in Cardiff as they clinched the Triple Crown.
Highlights: Wales 40-24 England
And while Watson took encouragement from several areas of England’s performance, he acknowledged that the visitors’ discipline simply wasn’t up to scratch.
“Taking the decision-making and all of that stuff away, it’s tough to take as I thought we played pretty well in patches but obviously our discipline wasn’t good enough,” he said.
“That’s what has cost us. We showed great patches and actually showed great fightback to get to 24-all and then again discipline just cost us, they get into our half and were clinical in our 22.
“We only really have ourselves to blame I guess. We spoke about it [discipline] at half-time, we spoke about it at the end of the game and it’s not just come from us boys.
“It comes from trusting our system more so and continuing to practise decision-making under pressure in training where we can, that’s it really – there’s not much more to it.”
England’s second defeat in three games means their title defence is all but over yet Watson was emphatic when asked how tough it will be for the players to pick themselves up.
“It won’t be tough at all,” he said. “The boys we have here are never content, we are not just going to roll into next week, it’s going to be about trying to win our next two games.
“We first and foremost want to beat France. There is no room for complacency here whatsoever, no room for going through the motions because we lost two games, that’s impossible.
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“I’ve absolutely no worries about the boys’ commitment or anything like that in training. I have no doubt that the leaders will lead us in the correct way and everyone else will be ready to go.
“We’ll address it in a very stern manner in terms of discipline, that has to be addressed, and we’ll do that but in terms of confidence – we played well in patches and we need to highlight that.
“We need to build on that as well so I don’t think confidence will be an issue.”
England’s response after falling 24-14 behind was one of the main positives to take from the match as Eddie Jones’ men rallied to level the scores going into the final quarter of the contest.
And Watson wants England to take confidence from their fighting spirit.
“We built up some nice momentum, great decision-making from the ball players and we were able to flow with it but apart from that there was a lot of start-stop in the game,” he added.
“We need to be better in terms of re-finding that momentum and stuff like that but I thought all the players were excellent and we had that flowing momentum at times.
“The decision-making from the likes of George [Ford] and Owen [Farrell], they both played really well and we were able to capitalise on some of their class when we had that momentum.
Unbeaten Wales seal Triple Crown with emphatic England win
“We did play well in patches and I thought we defended pretty well as well. We got caught out a couple of times and were made to pay but on the whole our defence was pretty good.
“Our attack was pretty good as well so it’s just about keeping that consistency through 80 minutes and making sure we are a bit more clinical when we get in their 22.
“We need to come away with points every time and when they get in our 22 we need to stop them. It sounds pretty simple but that’s just the way it is.”