WALES were left to wonder what might have been after being edged out by Six Nations champions England at Twickenham.

The denial of a try for full-back Gareth Anscombe by the television match official and a superb scrambling tackle by former Ospreys flanker Sam Underhill left Warren Gatland’s men chasing the game at the death.

It was beyond them and now Welsh title hopes hinge on stunning Ireland in Dublin in round three.

Wales will be left to rue those small moments plus a sluggish start in a fierce and tight contest – it is undeniable that the decision that Anscombe had not grounded the ball ahead of Anthony Watson, despite good-looking evidence to the contrary, shaped the contest.

The Welsh had errors in their game, and missed late withdrawal Leigh Halfpenny badly, but could easily have been heading for Ireland with a triple crown on the line.

Their performance was admirable against a hefty home pack and they came on strong when English legs tired.

Flanker Aaron Shingler continues to impress, Anscombe grasped his chance and unsung lock Cory Hill had another fine game.

However, they lost the kicking battle and Gatland must not ponder tinkering with his back three for Dublin with George North, Liam Williams and Hallam Amos all tussling for starting berths.

But given the lengthy list of absentees featuring many Lions, it’s remarkable that Wales are now upset at only taking a losing bonus point from a clash at Twickenham, where Eddie Jones has never lost.

England, who lost captain Dylan Hartley for a head injury assessment inside the opening minute, swiftly hit the front when a high ball was slapped back by wing Anthony Watson and Owen Farrell’s kick through was perfect for wing Jonny May to slide, gather and dot down for 5-0.

Centre Farrell was wide with the conversion and then fly-half Patchell was just off target with a long-range penalty.

Neither side was able to get a foothold in the game in the greasy conditions with the kickers all guilty of some aimless punts as it stayed at 5-0 until England struck again with their power game.

They worked into the 22 and then hammered away with some brutal carries before finishing with a flourish while playing with penalty advantage, lock Joe Launchbury charging at the line wide on the left before offloading despite the presence of wing Josh Adams and Patchell for May to get his second.

Wales needed a spark and were given a chance with a penalty from the restart.

Captain Alun Wyn Jones made a brave call of going to the corner and while the drive was repelled, a cross-kick by Patchell with penalty advantage caused mayhem, coming off the knee of Adams.

Full-back Anscombe looked to have got to the ball before Watson but the TMO, New Zealand’s Glenn Newman, deemed it was inconclusive and Wales had to settle for three points from Patchell.

The hangbags were out after a penalty to Wales in the 33rd minute but more importantly Patchell turned down a kickable penalty to return to the English 22.

They drove a lineout, then hammered away only for tighthead Samson Lee to knock the ball on and offer England as escape, one that they took and it was 12-3 after an absorbing first half.

The second half started in brutal fashion with four minutes of play, most of it England carrying hard.

Some of the collisions were ferocious and Wales blindside Aaron Shingler was becoming increasingly influential as other limbs tired.

The Scarlets flanker made a superb dash through after 48 minutes only for Farrell to cover and put out the fire.

It was then England’s turn to miss an opening when replacement wing Jack Nowell, who started in lively fashion from the bench, failed to make the most of an overlap.

Wales, who always back their fitness, were very much in the game but needed to strike next as the game moved into the 50s.

The champions were enjoying territorial dominance but were not fashioning clear chances.

Gatland just needed a magic moment to make the hosts nervous and turned to George North from his bench with the wing coming on for Patchell.

Anscombe moved to fly-half and made an immediate impact by playing a key role in a slick move to get into the home 22 only for Farrell to win a superb turnover.

The game was suddenly stretched and Wales were agonisingly close to crossing from a stunning counter attack in the 62nd minute only for a wonderful cover tackle by former Ospreys flanker Sam Underhill to deny Scott Williams’ dive.

England were a little ragged but were gifted some respite by successive knock-ons by the otherwise impressive Anscombe then replacement tighthead Tomas Francis.

The clock was the home side’s friend but Wales stood firm after a bout of pressure in their 22 as England went route one.

However, they were pinned back in their own half and in need of two scores.

A 75th minute breakout, after a rip on flanker Courtney Lawes, gave hope with England scrambling and then offending.

Anscombe called for the tee and banged over the three points to make it 12-6 with four minutes to conjure a winner.

They tried manfully but couldn’t manage it, left to rue the TMO’s call and a scrambling former Osprey.

England: M Brown; A Watson (J Nowell 44), J Joseph, A Farrell, J May; G Ford (B Te’o 67), D Care (R Wigglesworth 64); M Vunipola (A Hepburn 76), D Hartley (captain, J George 1-10, 51), D Cole (H Williams 64), J Launchbury (G Kruis 67), M Itoje, C Lawes, C Robshaw, S Simmonds (S Underhill 40).

Scorers: tries – J May (2); conversion – O Farrell Wales: G Anscombe; J Adams, S Williams, H Parkes, S Evans; R Patchell (G North 55), G Davies (A Davies 65); R Evans (W Jones 57), K Owens (E Dee 64), S Lee (T Francis 57), C Hill (B Davies 73), AW Jones (captain), A Shingler, J Navidi, R Moriarty (J Tipuric 64).

Scorers: penalties – R Patchell, G Anscombe Referee: Jerome Garces (France) Attendance: Argus star man: Aaron Shingler