Match Centre: Wales 20-9 England

George North scored the second try for Wales
George North scored the second try for Wales

Wales 20-9 England, Cardiff

Wales kick-started their Rugby World Cup preparation with a 20-9 victory in the warm-up game against England in Cardiff on Saturday.

The victory follows despite Wales losing Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb to retirements and will be a relief to Warren Gatland, who saw his team languishing at the bottom of the table.

Ellis Genge captained the side in the absence of Owen Farrell as they had one final chance to impress head coach Steve Borthwick before he announces the World Cup squad on Monday.

Wales suffered an early injury setback with Ryan Elias forced off the field in the 5th minute with a blow to his leg and Elliot Dee replaced him. Marcus Smith kicked a long-range penalty goal to kick-start the proceedings in the 8th minute to make it 0-3.

Another scrum infringement allowed England to double the lead with Smith slotting another three-pointer to make it 0-6 before Leigh Halfpenny on his 100th Test appearance for Wales helped them reduce the deficit with a penalty goal of his own in the 18th minute.

Wales had an opportunity for the opening try as Sam Costelow sent an inside pass to Louis Rees-Zammit, who failed to get past the line. Nevertheless, Halfpenny's second penalty goal ensured England levelled the scores around the half-hour mark.

Just before the break, Smith kicked another penalty goal to give England a slender 6-9 advantage at the end of a competitive opening half.

Wales were the quickest to get off the block in the second half as Aaron Wainwright and Jac Morgan combined to send Gareth Davies over the line in the 48th minute and Halfpenny kicked the conversion to make it 13-9.

Just as both the coaches brought in the reinforcements, Wales added their second try by the end of the third quarter with this time George North scored his 45th try and Halfpenny improved to extend their lead to 20-9. Wales could have extended their winning margin as Rees-Zammit came close but a stern tackle from Freddie Steward forced him to knock on.

The two teams will meet once again next weekend at Twickenham Stadium.

Team line up:

Wales: Halfpenny; Rees-Zammit, North, Llewellyn, Dyer; Costelow, G Davies; Domachowski, Elias, Assiratti, Jenkins, Rowlands, Tshiunza, Morgan (capt), Wainwright.

Reserves: Dee, Smith, H Thomas, Carter, Plumtree, T Williams, Biggar, Grady.

England: Steward; Malins, Marchant, Porter, Cokanasiga; Smith, Care; Genge (capt), Blamire, Stuart, Ribbans, Martin, Ludlam, Pearson, Dombrandt.

Reserves: Dan, Rodd, Sinckler, Hill, T Willis, Van Poortvliet, Ford, Slade.