England wins 33-19 to stop Wales going top of rankings
LONDON (AP) — England ended Wales’ 14-match winning run with a comprehensive 33-19 victory at Twickenham on Sunday in a World Cup warmup game and prevented the visitors from replacing New Zealand at the top of the rugby rankings.
Warren Gatland’s strongest available Wales team included 13 starters from the Grand Slam-clinching victory over Ireland in March.
England began its World Cup preparations with an experimental team which established a healthy 24-7 lead through tries by Billy Vunipola, Joe Cokanasiga and Luke Cowan-Dickie, and went on to survive touchdowns from George North and Wyn Jones.
George Ford, England captain in the absence of Owen Farrell, finished with 15 points in a perfect afternoon from the tee and there was the successful return from a 17-month Achilles injury layoff for Anthony Watson.
“The World Cup is six weeks away, we’re conscious of that,” said England coach Eddie Jones. “If you want to go as far as you can in the tournament, which we do, that’s seven weeks. So that’s 13 weeks in total. Momentum is a hard thing to carry for 13 weeks. All we’re worried about is getting better all the time.”
Second-ranked Wales have not won at Twickenham since the last World Cup and never looked like ending that run to spoil the occasion of skipper Alun Wyn Jones becoming his nation’s most capped player in his 135th test, including nine British and Irish Lions appearances.
The rivals’ first test of the summer was played at a frenetic pace and the physicality took its toll as England’s outstanding Tom Curry departed in the first half nursing a damaged shoulder and was followed off by Wales playmaker Gareth Anscombe, who had an issue with his right knee.
England’s Jones said Curry’s shoulder injury was only minor, and Wales’ Gatland said Anscombe will undergo a scan. Curry’s injury had looked particularly worrying for England after fellow openside Sam Underhill was withdrawn from the starting XV because of a toe injury.
Gatland appeared unbothered by Wales missing a chance to top the rankings.
“It’s a nice accolade but the biggest prize is a couple of months away in Japan,” Gatland said. “Whoever wins the World Cup is the number one in the world.”