Twickenham - 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.
Six Nations champions 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.
"To have a structured game suits us more and for most of that game we stuck to it," Vunipola told Sky Sports.
"There were times Wales crept in but they're a great side and that's going to happen."
England, who announce their World Cup squad on Monday, led by 17
points early in the second half before two Wales tries in quick
succession from George North and replacement Wyn Jones that cut the gap
to just five points.
England had squandered a 31-0 lead in a 38-38 draw with Scotland last
time out in March. Back then they played a far more expansive game, but
this time they made sure of victory.
"I wrote down on a bit of paper before the game I thought we would win 33-12," England coach Eddie Jones told the BBC.
"It's exciting and we are looking forward to finalising the squad of 31 tomorrow," the Australian added.
"This game was never going to be a be all and end all selection."
Wales coach Warren Gatland tried to downplay the defeat ahead of next week's warm-up return clash with in Cardiff.
"We weren't at our best, especially in the first half - a couple of
soft tries," said Gatland, who will stand down as Wales boss after Japan
"England went back to traditionally what they're really good at.
"We will be a lot better next week," the New Zealander insisted.
The bulk of the Wales side at Twickenham had clinched this season's Six Nations Grand Slam.
England, by contrast, were fielding an experimental side, with scrumhalf Willi Heinz given a Test debut and named vice-captain.
They had been forced into three late changes after injuries to centre
Henry Slade, flank Sam Underhill and wing Ruaridh McConnochie with
Jonathan Joseph, Joe Cokanasiga and Lewis Ludlum all propelled into the
England had a 14-0 lead as early as the 15th minute following two converted tries.
Powerhouse No 8 Vunipola ripped the ball clear from a close-range maul to force his way over the line.
Flyhalf George Ford and Heinz combined to work the ball on the left
hand side before wing Cokanasiga crashed over for their second.
A brilliant solo effort from scrumhalf Gareth Davies got Wales back into the game in the 22nd minute.
England lost impressive flank Tom Curry to injury and Wales saw
flyhalf Gareth Anscombe, later on crutches, also go off before
Wales hooker Ken Owens missed captain Alun Wyn Jones, making his
135th Test appearance, at a line-out and hooker Cowan-Dickie caught the
ball to score his first Test try.
An early second half penalty saw Ford extend England's lead to 24-7.
But Wales hit back when North powered over from a close range scrum,
and they soon had another try when substitute prop Jones went over.
This time Dan Biggar converted but Ford gave England breathing space
with three penalties, the last one putting them 30-19 up with just seven
And there was still time for England fullback Elliot Daly to land a
late drop-goal to the delight of a capacity crowd of over 80 000.