Wales avoided the heavy defeat by England that some had predicted but still came unstuck in Llanelli.
Wayne Pivac’s side lost 24-13 against opponents who didn’t hit top gear themselves.
But England were too powerful, denying Wales a decent supply of ball.
MARK ORDERS dishes out the player ratings…
Leigh Halfpenny 6.5
Some of his defensive play was really good.
His reading of the game allowed him to snuff out a number of English threats and he was involved in an important turnover. Also showed excellent composure when dealing with a kick down the right near the flag.
Without him, the scoreline would have looked a lot worse for Wales.
Josh Adams 5
Took a skyscraper in the opening stages and kept his sleeves rolled up throughout, with his efforts including a possession steal.
Couldn’t impact the game in an attacking sense, though.
It’s now six Tests without a try for last year’s prolific Wales scorer.
Nick Tompkins 5
Earned Wales a penalty with a powerful leg-pumping run that resisted English attempts to hold him up, Tompkins also joined forces with Louis Rees-Zammit to foil a raid down the right.
Perspiration was never a problem, then.
But there seemed a dot more inspiration last season.
Johnny Williams 7
Wales’ best player on the day.
Barely put a foot wrong in the opening half as he gave Wales an against-the-run-of-play lead by supporting well and touching down, then hit Billy Vunipola with a ton-of-bricks tackle and followed up by knocking Jonny May back behind the gainline.
His emergence has been a plus for Wales.
Louis Rees-Zammit 6.5
He’s a flying machine but Wales couldn’t get the ball to him in the first half — not once.
Rees-Zammit still finished in credit, though.
Some of his defensive work, including a turnover, was excellent and he also put in a run or two that hinted at his big potential. Only Alun Wyn Jones and James Botham bettered his tally of 13 tackles.
Dan Biggar 5
Set up the first try with charge-down and footballing skills, then taken out in the air in run-up to England’s opener, a stonewall penalty offence which referee Romain Poite chose not to give.
But the Welsh attack barely fired a shot after that opening try.
Lack of ball was a problem, but inspiration wasn’t exactly abundant.
Lloyd Williams 5
Starting a Test for the first time in four years, Williams didn’t have the greatest platform to contend with. There were no opportunities to show his game in an attacking sense, and he was replaced eight minutes into the second half.
Wyn Jones 4.5
The challenge for Jones was to pressure the English scrum. It didn’t go well with the Scarlet incurring the displeasure of referee Romain Poite. Jones worked hard in the loose, jolting Kyle Sinckler with a fine tackle, but there were three penalties against his name according to the first draft of statistics.
Ryan Elias 5
His arrows have been a problem throughout this campaign and things didn’t improve dramatically here, with a couple of throws going off beam.
But the hooker did supremely well to win a maul turnover early in the second half.
He gives his all.
But at this level, he still has room to improve.
Samson Lee 4
He’d had Georgia’s scrum in trouble but this wasn’t his day, with the Scarlet conceding a couple of scrum penalties — one of them a shade harsh, it has to be said — and making limited impact in other areas.
Whipped off on 43 minutes.
Jake Ball 5
Ball had a big game against Georgia but he couldn’t repeat the trick against tougher opposition a week on.
He grafted but was part of a front-five that was outgunned.
Alun Wyn Jones 6
Stuart Barnes had cosied up to the Welsh public beforehand by suggesting “Jones’ great days are diminishing”.
The old warrior responded with an unyielding defensive shift that saw him put in 15 tackles and let nothing past.
There weren’t any carries of note but it’s hard to carry if the ball isn’t there.
Shane Lewis-Hughes 5.5
One of Wales’ new kids on the block saved a try by teaming up with Louis Rees-Zammit to keep out Billy Vunipola.
He put in nine hits in his 53 minutes on the field. Limited impact in an attacking sense, but Wales struggled for possession.
James Botham 6.5
His opposite number Sam Underhill was named man of the match, but Botham fronted up in defence with a haul of 18 tackles and no misses.
Wales were well-beaten at the breakdown.
But Botham’s overall effort typified the team’s defiance.
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Taulupe Faletau 6.5
He was the only Wales forward to get into double figures in terms of metres with ball in hand, with his footwork allowing him to evade the attentions of would-be defenders.
Also took a high ball with some assurance.
A fine contribution under the circumstances.
The front row hit problems in the scrum and line-out accuracy continued to prove elusive. Will Rowlands and Aaron Wainwright showed up in defence.