Wales (6) 19 Try: Stoddart Con: S Jones Pens: S Jones 3, Hook England (13) 26 Tries: Ashton 2 Cons: Flood 2 Pens: Flood 3, Wilkinson
Extended highlights - Wales 19-26 England
By Gareth Roberts
BBC Sport Wales at the Millennium Stadium
Wing Chris Ashton scored two tries as England kicked off the Six Nations with a hard-fought win in a compelling encounter in Cardiff.
It was England's first tournament win in the Welsh capital since their 2003 Grand Slam before the World Cup.
Ashton went over either side of the break, which saw England leading 13-6, and Toby Flood kicked 13 points.
Morgan Stoddart's converted try and a James Hook penalty made it 19-23 but Jonny Wilkinson's penalty sealed it.
The World Cup winner came on as a replacement for man-of-the-match Flood with 13 minutes left, and helped the visitors close out victory to underline their status as the world's fourth-ranked nation.
They will now host Italy at Twickenham next Saturday, one of three successive home games, with high hopes of launching a serious title tilt for the first time in eight years.
For Wales though, an eighth Test without a win - since beating Italy in the 2010 Six Nations - is a major blow to their hopes of a successful campaign.
The opening exchanges were almost as explosive as the pyrotechnics that greeted Wales' emergence from the tunnel ahead of kick-off.
With Wales boss Warren Gatland having dubbed England hooker Dylan Hartley a weak link and Ben Foden urging the "big neighbour to put their small neighbour in their place", that fiery start should perhaps have been expected.
Wales chose to bring their back-five into the game early on with Andy Powell, Sam Warburton, Dan Lydiate and Bradley Davies making inroads into the England defence.
England held firm, but according to referee Alain Rolland they were guilty of offending at the first two scrums.
However, Hook could not fire over his long-range penalty and after taking a heavy knock trying to bring down Foden, Stephen Jones also missed from closer range.
Wales were also guilty of kicking possession away badly, relieving some of the pressure they had built up in the opening quarter.
Mistakes and discipline cost Wales - Williams
England were intent on ensuring their big ball-carriers were also well employed with fly-half Flood regularly bringing into play the likes of Nick Easter and James Haskell.
The visitors received their reward for absorbing Wales' early pressure. Flood put the ball deep into Wales' territory from a penalty and from the line-out England launched their forwards on the drive.
When that eventually ground to a halt, England went wide only for Mike Tindall to send a dreadful pass over Ashton's head and into touch.
But England were far from finished in their attacking intent and when Flood a gaping hole between Welsh props Paul James and Craig Mitchell, he breezed through it and sent Ashton in under the posts before adding the conversion.
Wales fell further behind when Powell was caught in possession at the base of a retreating scrum and Flood kicked the penalty.
But fly-half Jones put Wales on the scoreboard when Haskell was caught offside.
Another England score seemed to be on the cards as their forwards again built up a head of steam in the Welsh 22.
But Wales somehow snaffled possession for fly-half Jones to send half-back partner Mike Phillips haring away with Stoddart in support.
The wing outstripped Mark Cueto, but Foden's excellent cover tackle killed the threat.
That close call encouraged Wales to launch another series of attacks that ended when lock Louis Deacon killed the ball illegally in the shadow of England's posts.
It earned Deacon 10 minutes in the sin-bin and fly-half Jones the chance to kick a simple penalty.
Johnson wants improvement despite win
However, in the process Wales had to relinquish a wonderful attacking position and England were able to ride the loss of a forward and even did enough for Flood to restore their seven-point lead in Deacon's absence.
That is how it stayed until the break and just when Wales needed to keep their composure, tight-head prop Mitchell was sin-binned for killing the ball at a ruck and Flood kicked the penalty.
There was no doubt England had the edge up front even before Mitchell's enforced rest and despite Wales' continued attempts at breaking free, the visitors again found their way around the Welsh defence.
The outstanding Tom Palmer won a line-out and then charged into the heart of the Welsh defence, scrum-half Ben Youngs moved the ball swiftly right and Cueto's looping pass saw Ashton benefit from a huge overlap to again run in untouched.
Flood converted to leave Wales with a 23-9 deficit going into the final quarter.
Gatland's side got back to within striking distance when fly-half Jones's clever pass sent centre Jonathan Davies arcing round Shontayne Hape.
The Scarlets centre's pass was slightly behind Stoddart but the wing managed to gather and force his way over in the right corner, Jones converting from wide out to leave Wales with 15 minutes in which to strike again.
They did so when Hook kicked a 70th-minute penalty to reduce the deficit to four points, but Wales' challenge all but ended there.
England came close to forcing their way over with a series of forward charges from close range as the minutes ticked away, but Wales held out and the attack came to nothing when the visitors were penalised.
But replacement Wales full-back Lee Byrne was penalised for not releasing at a tackle under pressure from Palmer and Wilkinson landed the kick with five minutes left to effectively seal victory.
Wales launched one final assault but when it broke down, Danny Care - on for Youngs - kicked the ball out of play to signal the end of proceedings.
Wales: Hook; Stoddart, J. Davies, Roberts, Williams; S. Jones, Phillips; James, Rees, Mitchell, A. Jones, B. Davies, Lydiate, Warburton, Powell. Replacements: Byrne for S. Jones (67), Peel for Phillips (69), Hibbard for Rees (70), R Jones for Powell (33) J Thomas for Lydiate (71), Yapp for Mitchell (71) Not Used: Priestland.
Sin Bin: Mitchell (46).
England: Foden; Ashton, Tindall, Hape, Cueto; Flood, Youngs; Sheridan, Hartley, Cole, Deacon, Palmer, Wood, Haskell, Easter. Replacements: Wilkinson for Flood (66), Care for Youngs (62), Wilson for Sheridan (61), Thompson for Hartley (69), Shaw for Deacon (69), Worsley for Haskell (62). Not Used: Banahan.
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