Mike Brown leads England victory celebrations in Cardiff
WALES: 16 ENGLAND: 21
England's World Cup year gained lift-off at the Millennium Stadium as they launched their RBS 6 Nations campaign by recording a stirring victory over Wales.
Unlike in 2013 on their last Cardiff visit when England were humiliated by a record 27-point margin, this time Chris Robshaw's men delivered when it mattered.
Despite falling 10 points behind early on to a Rhys Webb try, plus a Leigh Halfpenny conversion and penalty, England built on some mighty work by their forwards as Bath backs and Six Nations debutants Anthony Watson and Jonathan Joseph both claimed touchdowns.
Fly-half George Ford added three penalties and a conversion – his second strike after Wales wing Alex Cuthbert had been sin-binned – while Wales failed to score in the second period after another Halfpenny penalty and a Dan Biggar drop-goal had given them what appeared to be a solid advantage.
The teams meet again in a crunch World Cup pool game at Twickenham on September 26, and England struck a psychological blow by outmuscling Wales up-front as flanker James Haskell, number eight Billy Vunipola and prop Dan Cole all produced five-star performances.
It was arguably the most notable and important win of Stuart Lancaster's coaching reign, especially given the number of players he lost beforehand through injury, with England now set up for a major tilt at Six Nations silverware.
Wales, though, will need to take a long hard look at themselves ahead of what promises to be a testing encounter against Scotland at Murrayfield on Sunday week.
After the match, it emerged that captain Chris Robshaw responded to Welsh mind games in the tunnel moments before kick-off as he held back his players from running out at the Millennium Stadium until the last possible moment.
Stuart Lancaster's men had been told to run out on to the pitch but with Wales still in their changing room, they knew they would be kept waiting on a bitterly cold night at the Millennium Stadium.
In scenes that evoked memories of Martin Johnson's refusal to move his England team at Ireland's request as they lined up before completing a Grand Slam in Dublin 12 years ago, Robshaw told his players to remain in the tunnel.
"We wanted to have a bit of control. We didn't want to be out there. You saw when we actually were out there the lights were off," Robshaw said.
"I'm sure Wales would have made us wait for five minutes in the field. There was a little bit of that, but we stood our ground and went out when the referee said we needed to.
"We just didn't want to go out on to the pitch 10 minutes before they came out, it's as simple as that
"We didn't want to play any tricks or mind games, we just wanted to go out when they did.
"The referee didn't make us go out. We didn't want to wait and play sportsman's tricks, so we waited in the changing room and then in the tunnel together for as long as possible.
"When the referee said it was time to go, we went. He came out with us. We weren't going to be told to go out 10 or 15 minutes before they came out."