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England beat Wales in Six Nations opener

England's Chris Ashton scores the first of his two tries against Wales in the Six Nations tournament.
England's Chris Ashton scores the first of his two tries against Wales in the Six Nations tournament.
  • England beat Wales 26-19 in the opening game of rugby union's Six Nations tournament
  • Chris Ashton scores two tries for England who win in Wales for the first time since 2003
  • Toby Flood scores 13 points for England and Jonny Wilkinson three

(CNN) -- England got their rugby union Six Nations campaign off to a flying start after defeating Wales 26-19 in Cardiff.

It was England's first win at the Millennium Stadium in the Welsh capital since 2003 and gave notice that manager Martin Johnson's side could be a force in this year's championship.

Two tries from Chris Ashton, who plays for the Northampton Saints, two conversion kicks and three penalty kicks from Toby Flood, and a late penalty from Jonny Wilkinson, sealed an impressive victory.

As for Wales, their run of not having won a Test match for 10 months continued.

CNN's Six Nations preview

The annual tournament sees England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy play each other once to determine the overall champion.

After a war of words developed in the build-up to the game, it was Wales who dominated the early exchanges but they failed to get points on the board as Stephen Jones and then James Hook missed the chance to register three points with penalties.

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England took advantage soon after as they registered their first try. Flood charged through a gap in the Welsh defence and offloaded to Ashton, who dived over the line in exuberant fashion to record five points. Flood then added two more points with the try conversion kick.

Flood then converted a penalty to give England a ten-point cushion but a yellow card for Louis Deacon forced him to sit in the sin-bin for ten minutes and brought the home side back into the match.

Jones slotted two penalties to bring the game within four points but Flood gave England breathing space with an early second half kick.

Wales' Craig Mitchell was then sent to the sin-bin and England capitalized in his absence as Ashton was released by Mark Cueto to score a try in the corner.

A flowing Wales move handed them a lifeline as Morgan Stoddart scored a try and Jones converted to bring them back within four points.

But England's World Cup hero of 2007, Jonny Wilkinson, then slotted a late penalty to ease English nerves and seal the contest.

Italy begin their campaign at home to Ireland on Saturday while France entertain Scotland on Sunday.