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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 February, 2005, 20:12 GMT
Key battles: Wales v England
By James Standley

Wales ended 12 years of hurt with a nail-biting 11-9 win against England in Cardiff on Saturday.

The Welsh turned in a hugely committed display, with Gavin Henson comprehensively winning his battle with Mathew Tait.

But it was not a one-man show, and here BBC Sport analyses how the key battles played out on the day.

GARETH THOMAS v JASON ROBINSON - FULL-BACK

Gareth Thomas and Jason Robinson
Thomas' enthusiasm and drive played a major part in Wales having the upper hand in the first half.

The pair came head to head twice when Robinson fielded Thomas' chips ahead, with the Welshman wrapping up his English counterpart once and being left for dead the second time.

Thomas blotted his copybook when he was sin-binned for retaliating against Danny Grewcock but he still edged his battle with Robinson.

The England full-back was not his usual electric self and his captaincy was not nearly as influential as that of the talismanic Thomas.

GAVIN HENSON v MATHEW TAIT - CENTRE

Gavin Henson and Mathew Tait
There was a clear winner in the battle of the young stars as the perfectly groomed and silver-shod Henson turned in a man of the match performance.

He twice put in massive tackles on Tait that not only halted the 18-year-old Englishman in his tracks but sent him shuddering backwards.

Henson also produced some booming kicks from hand that constantly put England on the back foot.

And his nerveless penalty in the dying minutes was the sign that the prodigal son has grown into an international match-winner.

GETHIN JENKINS v JULIAN WHITE - PROP

Gethin Jenkins and Julian White
One area where England expected to have control was up front, especially in the front row. But Jenkins held his own, although the visitors got the upper hand on occasion.

Despite England taking one scrum against the head, White never managed to dominate his Welsh opponent.

The last time Jenkins faced England, in a World Cup warm-up game, he found himself popped out of the scrum at will.

But on Saturday he never once had to stand up, and parity with White in this case is a moral victory for Jenkins.

MARTYN WILLIAMS v ANDY HAZELL - FLANKER

Martyn Williams and Andy Hazell
With the match becoming increasingly scrappy and space at a premium, the two opensides spent most of their time ferreting away at the bottom of rucks.

They fought constantly for possession on the ground and appeared to come out pretty even.

England often struggled for quick ball, suggesting Williams and Co were working away to great effect out of sight at the bottom of rucks and in the heart of mauls.

Hazell kept going to the last but Williams was more prominent with the ball in hand and edged the battle.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Highlights: Wales 11-9 England


Interview: Wales coach Mike Ruddock


Interview: England coach Andy Robinson



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