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Six Nations
England turn attention to Wales
Tom Hamilton at Twickenham
February 23, 2014
David Wilson managed 70 minutes for England despite worries over his fitness © Getty Images
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An hour after England saw off Ireland 13-10 at Twickenham, the attention had already shifted to welcoming Wales in a fortnight's time.

The Six Nations is now a four-way tussle with France, Wales, England and Ireland all in with a shout of lifting the famous trophy come March 15. At present, Ireland are in the box seat with a superior points difference at the top of the table leading England by 21, Wales by 36 and France by 41.

While Ireland play Italy in round four of the competition, the key tie will be at Twickenham where England host Wales. Lancaster hailed England's win over Ireland as "the most significant win of my tenure" but is his way, he will spend little time celebrating this victory as he will already be planning for Wales who will head into the match on March 9 full of confidence after easing past France 27-6 on Friday evening.

Painful lessons drive England to win

  • In the words of Andy Farrell, England's win took "massive balls". Again England found themselves behind with the momentum firmly in the opponent's favour but unlike their games against New Zealand back in the autumn and France at the start of the month, sheer bloody-mindedness and defensive structure saw them through.
  • This was a brilliant Test match with both teams finding tooth and nail throughout. The statistics show that Ireland shaded almost every area of the game bar the scoreboard. They had more possession, territory and a scrum in the ascendancy but they lost.
  • Read the full verdict here

"The Six Nations is open for everyone given the way the results have gone. It's been a fantastic championship this year," Lancaster said. "We'll enjoy this win but we know that there's a big, big challenge coming in two weeks' time.

"We respect Wales because of what they've achieved over the last couple of years and their performance against France has given them confidence, so it will be a great game."

It will be the first time England face Wales since they were smashed 30-3 in the final match of last year's Six Nations. The wounds are still open for this England side but they have drawn on such experiences as that hammering and the defeats to New Zealand in the autumn and France in the opening match of this year's Six Nations to develop as a side, as Dylan Hartley emphasised in the aftermath of Saturday's win over Ireland.

"It was a good solid win. There was a load of talk during the week about the experience Ireland had and how they outnumbered our caps but it was good to see us concede points but get back and close out a match. For a young team, that was showing experience beyond its years to close out a match like that. When you talk about caps on paper I don't think it's that important as long as you learn lessons from recent weeks and last year, which we have.

"From our loss against the All Blacks and the defeat to France, as long as we are learning and improving that's the main thing. The positive thing is that our championship dream is still alive and we stopped the Irish getting the Triple Crown."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.

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