England 33-19 Wales: Eddie Jones' experiment pays off in first Rugby World Cup warm-up clash
Watch all of England's Quilter Internationals live on Sky Sports this summer
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 11/08/19 7:30pm
Eddie Jones' decision to field an experimental England line-up paid off as they overcame Wales 33-19 in the first of the summer's Quilter Internationals on Sunday.
The hosts led 21-7 at half-time as converted scores from man-of-the-match Billy Vunipola, late call-up Joe Cokanasiga and Luke Cowan-Dickie put them in control at Twickenham.
Wales threatened to mount a fightback early in the second half with converted tries from George North and Wyn Jones, but skipper for the day George Ford kept the scoreboard ticking over with his boot to bring the away side's run of 14 straight Test wins to an end.
There were, however, injury concerns for both sides, with England losing Tom Curry to a right shoulder injury after half an hour and Wales seeing Gareth Anscombe helped from the field due to a right knee problem soon after.
The disparity of experience between the sides was emphasised by the number of caps both teams had in their starting line-ups, with Wales' XV totalling 678 appearances - including captain Alun Wyn Jones becoming his country's most-capped international - and England just 390.
Head coach Jones, who announces his squad for the World Cup in Japan at 1pm on Monday, had been forced to reshuffle his initial starting side too, with Cokanasiga, Jonathan Joseph and newcomer Lewis Ludlam replacing a trio of injured players.
Nevertheless, England made an encouraging start to the contest, with debutant scrum-half Willi Heinz getting quick ball to keep the attacks coming and flanker Curry making a break which gave the home side a good position to strike from in the build-up to the first try.
The opening score came following a scrum on four minutes. Cokanasiga cut in from the left wing and then sent Vunipola racing away before offloading to Heinz and although the Gloucester number nine was stopped, the ball was recycled to set up back row Vunipola to drive over from close range.
An interception from Curry as Wales sought to reply laid the platform for England's second try on 14 minutes, which came soon after Vunipola was deemed to be held up over the line by the TMO.
The resulting five-metre scrum saw the Saracens number eight pick and carry to within touching distance of the line, followed by Heinz doing likewise from the base of a ruck. But although he was tackled, Bath wide man Cokanasiga picked up and drove his way over.
In contrast, Wales were struggling to get anything going in attack, but penetrating runs from fly-half Anscombe and then Jonathan Davies seemed to give them a fillip, despite England halting that attack and turning the ball over.
It was not long before Warren Gatland's men were on the scoreboard though and it came from a piece of individual brilliance by Gareth Davies.
From a scrum just inside England's half, the Scarlets number nine burst down the blindside, fended off Vunipola and side-stepped Elliot Daly for a 22nd-minute try which Anscombe converted.
But Wales were dealt a blow on the stroke of half-time when a line-out from Ken Owens close to his own lines squirmed through the hands of skipper Jones, with England hooker Cowan-Dickie the grateful recipient to score, followed by Ford kicking his third conversion of the afternoon.
Ford, handed the England captaincy for this match in the absence of Owen Farrell, edged the home side further in front with a close-range penalty four minutes into the second half.
However, Wales capitalised on some disciplinary lapses from the hosts and hit back again six minutes later, with North finishing in a similar manner to Cokanasiga earlier in the game after Owens had broken from a line-out drive and been stopped short.
The visitors came strong again and got a third try on 55 minutes. Hadleigh Parkes made the initial break to take them to within striking distance and replacement prop Jones finished after Justin Tipuric had been tackled just short, with Dan Bigger - on for Anscombe - converting both.
A penalty from Ford on the hour mark after he had been the victim of a high tackle settled a few nerves for England and he scored another in the 73rd minute after the pack had exerted pressure on Wales at a scrum.
Then Daly slotted over a cheeky drop goal in the closing stages and although replacement nine Ben Youngs had a try ruled out for a forward pass on the final play of the game, it could not put a dampener on an encouraging day for England ahead of next Saturday's rematch in Cardiff.
George Ford believes England still have areas to work on, but was pleased they were able to find a way to overcome Wales.
Alun Wyn Jones insists Wales will be better when the teams do battle again in Cardiff on Saturday.