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AFP / Adrian DENNIS
Billy Vunipola has scored seven tries in 41 Tests for England
England denied Wales top spot in the world rankings as Billy Vunipola led a fine forward effort in a 33-19 win at Twickenham on Sunday in their opening Rugby World Cup warm-up match.
Wales, who kicked off on the back of a 14-match unbeaten streak, would have gone top of the standings following reigning world champions New Zealand’s shock 47-26 loss to Australia on Saturday, had they avoided defeat.
But they seemed taken aback by the ferocity of a Red Rose pack in what was England’s final match before coach Eddie Jones names his World Cup squad on Monday.
Wales found themselves 17 points behind early in the second half.
But despite two Wales tries in quick succession from powerhouse wing George North and replacement prop Wyn Jones — the latter converted by Dan Biggar — that cut the gap to just five points, England held their nerve.
The pack’s pressure allowed George Ford to kick three second-half penalties that saw England end th
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