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Anscombe scores points with Welsh fans

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    12 Feb 2018     Getty Images

Starting at fullback after regular Leigh Halfpenny was forced to withdraw, Anscombe shifted to first five-eighths when Rhys Patchell was substituted after 55 minutes and had an immediate impact on Wales' play.

But he also was denied a try when TMO Glenn Newman decided he hadn't got his hand to a ball in England's in-goal area ahead of defender Anthony Watson.

The win might not have been achieved, but Wales on Sunday writer Simon Thomas said, "Perhaps now, finally, the Gareth Anscombe doubters will accept that he's a pretty decent player."

Thomas said that since Anscombe arrived in Wales in 2014 there had been questions about why he had been secured.

"This was surely the day when the Welsh rugby public will have realised just what a huge talent he is.

"He did a sound job at No.15 for 55 mins, both with his covering and his willingness to counter.

"But it was when he moved to fly-half following Rhys Patchell's departure that you really saw what he had to offer.

"Rather than being in a peripheral role, he was now at the helm, making the calls and navigating the ship.

"And what an impact he made, changing the game with the attacking threat he brought to the party," he said.

Thomas said that since his arrival in Wales, Anscombe had always looked comfortable with the ball in hand. He knew what he was doing and had variety in his game.

"His range of passing is as good as anyone, while his footwork, pace and eye for a gap make him so dangerous as a runner.

"He constantly challenges the defence with the way he takes the ball to the line and poses so many problems, both by putting others into holes and finding them himself.

"Once handed the keys to No.10, he came alive and dragged Wales up by their bootlaces as they pushed England to the edge in the final quarter," he said.

Cardiff Blues fans were aware of Anscombe's qualities but wider Welsh supporters hadn't seen it so often due to the run of injuries he had suffered, including a groin injury which had been sorted by a visit to an Irish specialist, Thomas said.

While they had lost, Wales could 'take heart from much of what they did and one man, in particular, has now arrived on the Test scene beyond all doubt'.

Wales legend Barry John said in the same paper that Wales looked a different team when Anscombe changed position. He brought inventiveness, colour and sharpness to the game.

"To trouble one of the best defences in the world, as Anscombe did, was some effort," he said.