Monday 19 August 2019 11:05 am

Wales show resilience to bounce back and beat England in physical affair

For those who say World Cup warm-up matches should not count as Tests, this was anything but a friendly. 

More than 73,000 came to watch Wales beat England 13-6 on Saturday in a hugely physical battle at the Principality Stadium that saw tempers flare and the hosts become the world’s No1 side.

Warren Gatland warned his Welsh players that if they started this Test in the same vein as last weekend’s defeat at Twickenham, their position in the team would be in jeopardy. 

Read more: Ruaridh McConnochie’s selection shows Eddie Jones’s methodology with England

As they kept England scoreless in the first half for the first time since the 2011 World Cup, his words had clearly been heeded. 

There was a typically hostile reception for Eddie Jones’s men as they arrived in the dragons’ den, and this time England were not able to score early on as Wales matched their opponents’ physicality and intensity from the off. 

It took Wales 26 minutes to put points on the board themselves when Dan Biggar opted for the posts after failing to capitalise on some try-scoring opportunities. 

Wales celebrate after holding out a final England push

With half-time approaching and the match in the balance, Anthony Watson, who was brought in just hours before kick-off to replace the injured Ruaridh McConnochie, was sent to the sin-bin for preventing a scoring opportunity with a knock-on.

From the resulting penalty, Biggar kicked it out wide before Watson had even left the field, catching England unaware, before sending it the opposite way to George North for what turned out to be the game’s only try.

George Ford, England captain for the day, would convert two penalties early in the second half to bring the visitors back into the match at 10-6, but Wales, led by Alun Wyn Jones, defended resolutely to keep the visitors at bay.

Tensions were high in both camps following England’s 33-19 win a week before and there were a number of melees throughout the match as emotions boiled over.

George Ford captained England and converted both penalties during a testing match

Away from those antics, up in the stands, the game will have given both head coaches plenty to think about, with Jones proclaiming that each warm-up game would serve a different purpose. 

As he was forced to bring on key personnel like Owen Farrell, Manu Tuilagi, George Kruis and Jamie George, it was a sign Saturday’s game plan had not gone as hoped, with Wales matching, or besting, England at every scrum and breakdown.

Read more: Jones is being decisive with England World Cup squad but intensity could backfire

For Gatland the match demonstrated Wales’s quality in depth, with man of the match Biggar filling in seamlessly for injured Gareth Anscombe, but there will be concerns at the number of injuries occurring. 

Liam Williams was replaced during the warm-up with a hamstring issue, James Davis was removed following a head injury, and Jake Ball and Biggar hobbled off late on, with Anscombe and Taulupe Faletau already ruled out of the World Cup.

The result leaves England and Wales one apiece from these matches, and a third and decisive encounter could occur in Japan, with the teams set to meet in either the quarter-final or final.