WORLD CUP SELECTION
The fixture was a final chance for England’s players to earn World Cup selection with Jones due to announce his squad for Japan on Monday.
Scrum half Willi Heinz and flanker Lewis Ludlam both won debuts from the off and impressed throughout, while they were joined by uncapped Joe Marchant and Jack Singleton midway through the second half.
There was also a welcome return to international action for wing Anthony Watson after an injury lay-off of nearly 18 months, as well as Jonathan Joseph but worryingly England did lose flanker Tom Curry midway through the opening half.
England made an electric start, having probed the Wales defence from the off they crossed inside five minutes. Vunipola bundling over after a combination of pace and power had taken Jones’ side in to the opposition 22m and the Saracens forward finished things off.
Soon after Vunipola was held up over the line as England continued to press hard in a fiery contest but from the resulting scrum they were over again. The ball was eventually recycled to the left wing and Cokanasiga was on hand to charge over off the back of a ruck 5m out.
A last-ditch tackle from Watson denied Wales a first try but they were over soon after via scrum half Davies. Wales had a scrum inside England’s half and from it Davies jinked his way past several tackles scoring a superb individual try.
England had the final say of an entertaining half via Cowan-Dickie who making his first start caught an overthrown lineout and the Exeter Chiefs hooker was the grateful recipient, crossing unchallenged from 5m out for a first international try.
Ford sent over a penalty shortly after the restart, taking his tally to nine for the afternoon but it was Wales who were first cross in the second half. Wales mauled to England’s 5m and after it broke down, a quick pick and go saw North dart through.
Wyn Jones was next to cross, bundling over after a period of intense Wales pressure but Ford gave England an eight-point lead with a second penalty and his forwards helped grind out the victory, with the scrum a particular area of strength.
Another scrum infringement gave Ford the chance for a third penalty which he sent over and Daly kicked a late drop goal to add gloss to the victory.
England captain George Ford: “It’s a good start. We said all week what a great opportunity it would be in front of a packed crowd. We wanted to rip in and work together, not everything was going to be perfect but we found a way.
“As players we wanted to start building a winning mentality. The four new lads making their debuts today, we’ll enjoy tonight but there is still lots to work on.
“We started well, lost it a little bit in the middle but the pleasing thing was we got it back. We played to our strengths, the scrum and the line-out was a massive positive today.”
- England have now won seven of their last nine Tests against Wales.
- England and Wales have faced each other in August five times now, ahead of the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2019 Rugby World Cups; England won four of those matches (L1) including a record 62-5 victory over Wales at Twickenham 12 years ago.
- Wales suffered a first defeat having won their last 14 matches, their longest winning run in Test history; in fact, England are the only tier one team in the Northern Hemisphere to boast a longer run, winning 18 matches in a row between 2015 and 2017.
- England have lost just two of their 23 games at Twickenham since the 2015 Rugby World Cup (W19, D1) now, both defeats coming in 2018 against Ireland and New Zealand.
- Wales had won their last six matches away from home, their longest such run in Test rugby, with this their first defeat on the road since playing Ireland in Dublin in 2018.
England: Elliot Daly; Joe Cokanasiga, Jonathan Joseph, Piers Francis, Anthony Watson; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Dan Cole; Joe Launchbury, Charlie Ewels; Lewis Ludlam, Tom Curry, Billy Vunipola.
Replacements: Jack Singleton, Joe Marler, Harry Williams, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Ben Youngs, Joe Marchant, Manu Tuilagi.
Wales: Liam Williams; George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Gareth Anscombe, Gareth Davies; Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Tomas Francis; Adam Beard, Alun Wyn Jones; Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.
Replacements: Elliot Dee, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Aaron Shingler, Aled Davies, Dan Biggar, Owen Watkin.