WALES suffered agony in Cardiff after Elliot Daly’s try in the closing stages settled a Six Nations thriller.

It looked as though Rob Howley’s men were going to inflict a first defeat on Eddie Jones’ champions before the Wasps winger scored a cracker with four minutes remaining after a woeful clearance kick by the hosts.

Bonus points have been introduced to the Championship but there is no consolation from a home 21-16 loss, nor from playing their part in an absolute cracker of a Test.

This was the best that Wales have played for years – far better than they performed in the autumn when beating Argentina, Japan and South Africa – but they came up short after leading for most of the second half.

Jones had warned of the Welsh being cunning in the pre-match routine yet it was their craftiness on the field from a scrum to set up a Liam Williams try that looked set to give them a famous win. Instead it was the other No 11 who would be the match winner.

There was much to be pleased about in the Welsh performance with flanker Sam Warburton having another stupendous game, fly-half Dan Biggar was excellent to show why Sam Davies will have to wait for his turn while Ross Moriarty won his personal battle with Nathan Hughes with ease.

Should the Gloucester man have stayed on with Justin Tipuric the man to be replaced by Taulupe Faletau?

Produce the same and they will win in Murrayfield in a fortnight’s time but their title destiny is no longer in their own hands and it has to go down as a missed opportunity.

South Wales Argus:

Wales made a fine start and were into a 3-0 lead with a third minute penalty from full-back Leigh Halfpenny after England lock Courtney Lawes failed to roll away after a tackle.

They then defended with ferocity in their 22 to make a big statement with number eight Hughes, in for the injured Pontypool-raised powerhouse Billy Vunipola, smashed in one tackle and then spilling in another while visiting captain Dylan Hartley had the ball ripped from his grasp by fly-half Biggar.

However, the English bossed possession in a ferocious opening with centre Owen Farrell deservedly levelling in the 11th minute after a high tackle by Scott Williams on wing Jack Nowell.

Wales had scrambled well but were getting on the wrong side of referee Jerome Garces, exactly what defence coach Shaun Edwards had warned against, and a deliberate slap down giving long-range kicker Daly a chance that he pulled to the right of the posts.

But the pressure was incessant and it told when scrum-half Ben Youngs, who had marshalled things expertly, sniped over from the 26th phase after full-back Mike Brown was stopped just short.

The only surprise was that Farrell failed from the tee to leave England settling for an 8-3 lead that was swiftly reduced to two points on 23 minutes by Halfpenny after the visitors failed to roll away again, this time in their 22.

Then it was the champions’ turn to scramble in defence with Daly excellently pressured under a high ball by wing Alex Cuthbert and Biggar gathering the loose ball and kicking towards the line, Nowell just having the pace to clear the danger.

However, Wales were in the 22 and applied the pressure from the resulting lineout with the TMO needed after scrum-half Rhys Webb darted after a strong carry by captain Alun Wyn Jones.

The Osprey was short but the hosts had a penalty and opted for a five-metre scrum rather than the posts… only for Mr Garces to ping loosehead Rob Evans.

It was an important period for Wales, giving their defence a breather and posing some questions of the English in a ferocious and absorbing Test.

Alas, chances came and went with lock Jones making an uncharacteristic error when knocking on five metres out with an overlap on the left flank as half-time approached.

But Wales were putting the squeeze on Jones’ men and a charge down of a Youngs box kick 10 metres out, then a Marler knock-on, presented the chance to take the lead before the break.

They took it expertly with a crafty set move that saw wing Liam Williams come off his left wing to dash over by the posts past a flummoxed Farrell from scrum-half Rhys Webb’s pass, Halfpenny adding the simple extras for a deserved 13-8 lead.

The second half began in manic fashion with Wales enjoying themselves at the breakdown and one thrilling break ending with Biggar running clear only to be pulled back for a forward pass.

Jones was clearly not happy and turned to his bench with Dylan Hartley and Jack Clifford making way for two sizeable units in Jamie George and James Haskell while Rob Howley called for Taulupe Faletau.

Warburton, having one of his gargantuan Test days, was spotted infringing at a breakdown after 55 minutes and Farrell stepped up to make it 13-11.

However, Mike Brown was turned over from the restart and Wales hammered at the line for 22 phases before another penalty for not rolling away saw Halfpenny make take the lead back up to five entering the final quarter.

The starters’ legs were tiring with Mr Garces playing his part by letting the game flow and a remarkbale passage of play saw England hammer at the line in search of at least a leveller only for Biggar to pick off a Youngs pass, race clear and then kick on to force Daly into conceding a lineout in his 22.

It was tense and the visitors then got lucky, confusion resulting in replacement hooker Scott Baldwin making a mess of his throw.

This was typical gripping Six Nations stuff with Wales then forced to scramble again in their 22 in the 70th minute, an offside penalty presenting a dilemma of corner or posts. They went for the latter for Farrell to cut Wales lead to 16-14.

The English, with centre Ben Te’o making a huge impact, were turning the screw and got their noses back in front with five minutes left.

Wales turned the ball over to snuff out on attack but centre Jonathan Davies shanked his clearance and it was run back by George Ford, then Farrel for Daly to outpace Alex Cuthbert.

Farrell added a remarkably calm touchline conversion and Wales had three minutes for a rescue act, crucially needing a second try and not just a penalty to level.

It was beyond them as Englkand won their 16 straight Test.

Wales: L Halfpenny, A Cuthbert, J Davies, S Williams (J Roberts 71), L Williams, D Biggar, R Webb (G Davies 64), R Evans (N Smith 52), K Owens ( S Baldwin 60), T Francis (S Lee 52), J Ball, A W Jones (captain), S Warburton (C Hill 77), J Tipuric, R Moriarty (T Faletau 52).

Scorers: try – L Williams; conversion – L Halfpenny; penalties – L Halfpenny (3)

England: M Brown, J Nowell (J May 71), J Joseph (B Te’o 64), O Farrell, E Daly, G Ford, B Youngs (D Care 64), J Marler (M Mullan 71), D Hartley (captain, J George 46), D Cole (K Sinckler 71), J Launchbury, C Lawes, M Itoje, J Clifford (J Haskell 48), N Hughes.

Scorers: tries – B Youngs, E Daly; conversion – O Farrell; penalties – O Farrell (3)

Referee: Jerome Garces

Argus star man: Sam Warburton