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AN INEXPERIENCED England convincingly beat Wales in their first Rugby World Cup warm-up game today to deny the Welsh the chance to become the No 1 ranked side in the world.
If that was not satisfying enough for head coach Eddie Jones, he has also found his scrum-half after a dominant performance from debutant Willi Heinz.
The 32-year-old was a surprise inclusion, but Jones will have been pleased at how he bossed his pack and the Gloucestershire player’s quick decision-making.
Wales are notoriously slow starters and that was on show as England scored two tries in the first 20 minutes.
Captain Alun Wyn Jones set a new Welsh record as he won his 135th cap and was typically honest after the game, saying that to call his side rusty is an excuse and that Wales will need to improve during the coming week’s training.
Both coaches said their teams are looking to peak in Japan and not in the early August Twickenham sunshine.
The Welsh training camps in the Alps have been broadcast as very tough and both sides looked off their usual pace.
The English and Welsh usual defensive miserliness was not on show as both teams made errors in a scrappy first half.
England went into the break with a third try as Luke Cowan-Dickie snaffled an easy score after a despairing Wynn Jones failed to take a long lineout throw.
Supporters winced as players went down injured and Tom Curry hobbled from the field after just 28 minutes, to be followed five minutes later by Welsh fly half Gareth Anscombe.
The tale of the first half though was the outstanding form of big Billy Vunipola as he punched huge holes through the Welsh defence.
Vunipola opened the scoring after just three minutes with a close range try under the posts.
He then combined with equally large winger Joe Cokanasiga, who was pushed over the line by the English pack on the 12-minute mark for England’s second score.
Heinz almost scored a fabulous try but his burst led to Cokanasiga’s score.
On this display England fans will now want Vunipola packed in bubble wrap until the World Cup starts.
Once Wales woke up from the shock of going 14 points down they ran the ball at England with outstanding efforts from Anscombe, George North and, finally, an outstanding try for scrum half Gareth Davies after 22 minutes.
Once the Six Nations’ champions cut out their handling and kicking errors they looked more dangerous as English defenders failed to make their tackles.
With England adding a George Ford penalty after the break, Wales closed to five points as North and Wyn Jones scored well-taken tries.
A rueful Gatland said afterwards that he thought his side would win after they fought back to 24-19.
England conceded four penalties on the trot in the second half and Jones was pleased that his side managed to tighten the ship and cut out the errors.
Ford slotted two more penalties before full back Elliot Daly grabbed a loose ball to turn and pop over a drop goal to give the final scoreline a more comprehensive look.
Jones played tribute to man-of-the-match Anthony Watson after his comeback game after two years out of the international set-up.
“Watson has worked hard at his game and he got better and better as the match went on,” Jones said.
Battle will be resumed in Cardiff this weekend and the Welsh will be smarting at losing the chance to move above New Zealand to become the top-ranked side in the world.
Jones declared that his team selection this week will change, while Gatland is looking to choose the same side to replicate the six-day turnaround teams will face in Japan.
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