England's World Cup warm-ups: What's hot, what's not?
Lewis Ludlam took his chance, but lack of phases is a concern
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 27/08/19 1:26pm
Wales ended New Zealand's unbroken 10-year reign as rugby union's ranking leaders with their 13-6 World Cup warm-up success over England at the Principality Stadium.
It was a warm-up but Wales had to win, nearly a month out from a World Cup at home against their old rivals.
The extra motivation and hunger showed in how Warren Gatland's players managed the game, but England must adopt the same approach this weekend back at Twickenham when they host Ireland, live on Sky Sports Action.
We assess positive and negative aspects Eddie Jones should take from England's second Quilter International...
England's line speed
England had to do a fair amount of defending on Saturday, so it's perhaps unsurprising that the concession of a solitary contentious try should be seen as an area of encouragement.
The Red Rose have looked impenetrable in their defence off the line in these late summer weeks, and it is something John Mitchell has harped on about from the moment he walked through the door.
It is through playing wide and making breaks down the channels where England may get undone, but the likes of Ellis Genge and Joe Marler have made killing momentum at rucks an art form.
Poker Face Jones
The Australian has been reluctant in his opening two games to give away too many clues as to the make-up of his best team ahead of the World Cup, but he will most certainly have it in mind by now.
In the two Wales games, Jones has shaken things up, but he has promised a "different selection strategy" against Ireland. Things are starting to take shape but the back three remains unclear.
Jones has selected six players for the World Cup to fulfil these positions, but none are specialist full-backs. Elliot Daly came through the early tests from Dan Biggar's high balls but is still not convincing.
Jonny May is yet to feature but looks a certain starter while Anthony Watson will be desperate for a far better impact against Ireland with Jack Nowell closing in on a return - options that should excite England supporters.
Ludlam can play pivotal role
There were positive individual performances on Saturday and Lewis Ludlam was arguably top of the class.
Selected at No 7, Jones admitted afterwards that he was playing at 80 per cent in what was more a mental test than anything else. He could prove crucial in the games against USA and Tonga, so facing Wales in Cardiff will have been a big learning curve.
For a second cap, at just 23, he already looks at home at this level and it was a pretty good outing, earning a superb turnover in midfield at the breakdown and forcing another near his own tryline.
Red zone phases
Wales came with a really solid, no thrills game plan that beat England. They had options to kick a couple of penalties before they did, so it wasn't without a degree of early adventure.
Jones will be working on combinations this week in attack, which will be needed to break through Ireland.
There simply weren't enough phases inside Wales' 22. Remarkably, the Red Rose only had 16 in Wales' red zone in the 80 minutes, coming away with nothing.
The maximum in one visit was six before Gatland's men gained the turnover, so England will have to be far more efficient if they are to remain in Japan long into the autumn.
Never lose eyes on the opposition
The game's major talking point, of course, came from quick thinking with the quick tap that irked Jones, but England rarely put themselves in the position to take such opportunities.
Having the right mind set is paramount when faced with a referee struggling to control a game, and Pascal Gauzere didn't cover himself in glory on Saturday.
England were ambushed for Wales' try, at a time when Ben Youngs was standing on the sideline waiting to replace Willi Heinz, who had already departed for a head injury assessment, reducing them to 13 men.
They were caught unaware as they gathered in a huddle in expectation that Watson must first leave the pitch, but captain George Ford at least recognised they were at fault.
"We were trying to discuss what to do with the next 10 minutes with the yellow card with Anthony off the field. It's something we have to anticipate better," Ford said.
Do England have a Plan B?
England's line out and maul was met by a red brick wall in Cardiff - but Jones will be disappointed that his side were not able to convert from those situations as they were turned over twice - the closest they came to snatching a draw.
There's been a fair amount of criticism of England following the weekend's loss - most notably their vulnerability at the breakdown - but the manner in which New Zealand bounced back against Australia shows that we shouldn't read too much into pre-season.
England's road to Japan
Saturday: Ireland (H) 3pm, Twickenham, live on Sky Sports
September 5: Italy (H) 7.45pm, live on Sky Sports
September 22: Tonga, Sapporo, 11.15am, World Cup pool game
September 26: USA, Kobe City, 11.45am, World Cup pool game
October 5: Argentina, Tokyo, 9am, World Cup pool game
October 12: France, Yokohama, 9.15am, World Cup pool game
Reaching the final in Yokohama on November 2 remains the primary focus, and clearing rucks is just one of the areas Jones will target in the next month. He will be honing the starter plays and the structure he is working on it attack.
Naming the squad a full five weeks out from a World Cup will allow the 31 to head into the opening pool game against Tonga in Sapporo as a well-drilled machine, ready for the rigours of tournament rugby, and a Plan B is essential.
England face Ireland in their next Quilter International on Saturday at Twickenham live on Sky Sports Action. They also face Italy (September 6) in Newcastle as part of their Summer Internationals, all on Sky Sports.