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England 33 Wales 19
England denied Wales the chance to rise to number one in the world rankings with a physical win in their opening pre-World Cup warm-up game at Twickenham. The home side scored three converted tries to inflict Wales’ first defeat in 15 Tests and prevent them from knocking the All Blacks off the top spot.
More pivotal encounters await at the World Cup in Japan starting next month but both sides were left to count the potential cost of a bruising contest. The Welsh outhalf Gareth Anscombe needed crutches after hurting a knee and England lost their openside flanker Tom Curry with a shoulder knock.
There was an edge to this supposed warm-up from the outset, England displaying impressive early close-range power to go 14-0 up through tries from Billy Vunipola and Joe Cokanasiga. Wales needed a spark and duly found one in the shape of an outstanding individual try from Gareth Davies, who exploited a gap down the blindside from a scrum and stepped past Elliot Daly for a wonderful solo score.
At no stage were Wales able to relax in the set pieces and England’s third try was a gift, Ken Owens’s lineout throw close to his own line soaring over Alun Wyn Jones at the back and allowing Luke Cowan-Dickie to surge over for his first England try.
A 21-7 interval lead was due reward for England’s extra urgency and attacking intensity but Wales were not finished, surging back into contention with tries from George North and replacement prop Wyn Jones after the hosts had replaced their debutant scrumhalf Willi Heinz.
Three George Ford penalties and an opportunist Daly drop-goal, however, clinched a morale-boosting win for England for whom Northampton’s Lewis Ludlum enjoyed a notable debut in the backrow and Cokanasiga was a consistent handful on the left wing.
Jones will have the luxury of picking from strength when he confirms his 31-man squad in Bristol on Monday. – Guardian
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