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Wales v England: Rugby World Cup warm-up international – live | Rugby union

Key events

TRY! Wales 13 – 9 England (Gareth Davies)

48 mins. In a surprising development, Gatland has kept his two props on and they’ve rewarded his faith by winning a penalty at the first scrum of the half.

From the next possession Costelow finds Wainwright with a lovely cross-kick who offloads and puts Jac Morgan on a dancing run up the right touchline. He cuts inside and calmly pops it left to Davies to score.

A lovely try.

Halfpenny converts.

45 mins. Wales try to run out of their own 22 on a knock-on advantage and the ball comes to Dyer on the left touchlie who is shepherded into touch.

Dave Ribbans is off for a head injury assessment, replaced by Johnny Hill

43 mins. England are testing with a few kicks to the Wales wings, one of which Rio Dyer can’t claim because fullback/godzilla Freddie Steward gets up to first. Costelow claims one though, and after another England handling error, the home side have the ball on halfway.

Second Half!

Marcus Smith heaves it long and we are back in play

Half time musings

The score is pretty much a bang on reflection of the match thus far. England have had the better of possession and looked likely in attack, especially in the second quarter, but the precision of the hands – to be expected in the first hit out of the season – has frustrated decent positions a number of times.

The one period of possession Wales had in the England half produced some positive patterns and intent, with Costelow looking comfortable in the heat of (nearly) Test rugby. There is also much to be said for Wales’s scramble defence and wider organisation and desire without the ball. However, the scrum is a worry and don’t be surprised Gatland sends out two new props for the second half.

Earlier today, Scotland came from behind with 14 to beat France. Read all about it here.


Peeeeeeep! That’s the first forty (and a bit) done

PENALTY! Wales 6 – 9 England (Marcus Smith)

40+2 mins. Wales’s front row was so bored with the scrum they decided to collapse it, so Smith can put his side back in front.

The right boot of Marcus Smith puts England’s noses in front just before half-time. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images/Reuters

40 mins. Time is up, but we still need to complete the scrum before the half ends. The crowd are awestruck by the quality of these moments judging by the total silence in the ground.

37 mins. Ludlam, who has been a nuisance to Wales all over the park so far, nabs the ball fairly from Tshiunza on the deck which allows Smith to punt a deep kick to test Costelow. He again fumbles it and England will have scrum platform in the Welsh 22.

33 mins. Ludlam has a big, rollicking carry up the left touchline before being halted by Rees-Zammit. England have a penalty for Wales offside, but the lineout is all imprecision, all the time, and the ball pops out of the maul.

Lewis Ludlam of England attempts to break past Louis Rees-Zammit of Wales.
Lewis Ludlam puts the burners on. Photograph: Andrew Fosker/Shutterstock

30 mins. England are into the Wales 22 from a Marchant linebreak, but as the ball comes right at pace Rio Dyer makes a brilliant decision to rush up on Dombrandt and while he doens’t make the tackle,the Wales wing does just enough to slow the No8 down and frustrate his pass. This allows Wales to recover as the ball goes to ground.

But England come back, Dombrandt prominent again, this time carrying off an inside pop from Genge. Steward tries to find Cokanisiga on the left touchline, but the pass is yoinked by North who can only run into touch with it.

Much, much better attack pattern and timing from England, and credit to Wales’s scramble defence.

England's Joe Marchant is tackled by Wales' Leigh Halfpenny.
England’s Joe Marchant is tackled by Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images/Reuters

27 mins. Remember I said how well Costelow was doing? Well, he’s just spilled an easy catch under no pressure into touch to give England a lineout on the 22.


PENALTY! Wales 6 – 6 England (Leigh Halfpenny)

25 mins. There was an advantage being played for Tom Pearson being offside amidst all that, so Halfpenny drills it through to bring the scores level.

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny scores a penalty.
Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny scores a penalty. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho/Shutterstock

23 mins. Wales continue to grow into the game, runing some decent short patterns off the scrum and this forces Jamie Blamire backwards in his tackle, a position from which he can’t roll away. Penalty Wales, and from the lineout Rees-Zammit is in behind the England defence but just loses his balance which means his is hauled down in the 22. Wales will come again…

20 mins. Cokanasiga, who for all his physical gifts on the wing can be suspect in defence, fails to field a very well judged high kick from Costelow and Rees-Zammit can’t nab it before it goes to ground. Wales will have a scrum just inside the English half.

PENALTY! Wales 3 – 6 England (Leigh Halfpenny)

17 mins. Wales have their first period of phased possession in the England half and it’s going very well, orchestrated by Sam Costelow who is approaching this game with plenty of confidence and expression. The white defence are offside and on the advantage the young 10 goes for a cross-kick but puts too much on it and it floats into touch.

Halfpenny tees up the pen and puts it over.

PENALTY! Wales 0 – 6 England (Marcus Smith)

13 mins. The Wales pack concertina under pressure from England, and the ref awards a pen to the visitors. It’s bang in front and Smith nonchalantly strokes it over.

Marcus Smith celebrates after England win a scrum penalty.
Marcus Smith celebrates after England win a scrum penalty. Photograph: Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection/Getty Images

10 mins. Marchant rattles Halfpenny in midfield and does enough to win a penalty for England. Looked to me like he hadn’t released clearly after the tackle before going back in for the ball, but my opinion counts for little.

Smith puts it in touch and his side work the attack from the lineout but once again the hands are like feet in the passing and the ball is down for a Wales scrum.

PENALTY! Wales 0 – 3 England (Marcus Smith)

7 mins. Domachowski is pinged for hinging in the scrum and Smith decides it’s in range, calls for the tee and booms it thorough the posts from about 40 metres. Oustanding strike, that.

6 mins. A tidy scrum allows Costelow to clear with the boot to Steward who has a decent slaloming run back into the Wales half. The visitors have good attacking shape, but the handling is again wanting.

Early sub: Ryan Elias is off with an injury, replaced with Elliot Dee

4 mins. A towering, unchallenged take from George Martin is tipped down to Blamire to have a rumble up with the ball which is promptly lost forward to the Wales defence. The home side take a turn to fumble possession, but Ref Nic Berry decides there was no advantage, so it’s a Wales scrum in front of their own posts.

2 mins. A standard opening couple of minutes, with each side trading kicks before Wales are offside when retreating following a Danny Care box-kick. We’ll have an England lineout coming up inside the home 22.

Danny Care of England clears the ball out of the ruck during the Summer International match between Wales and England.
Danny Care clears the ball out of the ruck. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Kick Off!

Sam Costelow, the Scarlets tyro, boots deep to get us underway.


Wales win, as usual.

Wales players sing their the national anthem before the match against England.
The Wales players exercise their vocal chords. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images/Reuters

The teams are in the tunnel in Cardiff, with Leigh Halfpenny first out to soak up a wonderful ovation from the Wales fans on the occasion of his 100th cap.

Ellis Genge of England and Jac Morgan of Wales lead the teams out prior to their Summer International match.
Ellis Genge of England and Jac Morgan of Wales lead their teams out. Photograph: Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection/Getty Images

Pre-match reading

CohesionWatch is all around at the moment, and Steve Borthwick is very much involved.

There’s much talk about both England and Wales being on the “easy” side of the RWC draw, thus there’s a greater chance of surprise progression to the very latter stages for either team.

Give me your thoughts on that, plus anything else on the Emither or via the husk of what was Twitter @bloodandmud.

England scrum coach Tom Harrison shouts instructions as his players practice scrummaging prior to the Summer International match between Wales and England.
England scrum coach Tom Harrison shouts instructions as his players practice scrummaging. Photograph: Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection/Getty Images


This game has more new caps than 1990s LL Cool J

Corey Domachowski and Keiron Assiratti, as well as centre Max Llewellyn all make debuts in a Wales side captained by Jac Morgan, with former England man Henry Thomas also taking his bow for his new nation off the bench. At the opposite end of the appearance spectrum, Leigh Halfpenny’s body has survived a warm-up for the first time in a while to allow him to return at fullback and pick up his well-deserved 100th cap.

Not to be outdone on the new lads, Steve Borthwick hands out starts to Tom Pearson at openside, while hooker Theo Dan and No 8 Tom Willis debut from the subs. Danny Care returns in the problematic nine shirt, and Marcus Smith is given his 22nd opportunity to demonstrate he’s the man for the out-half position.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Max Llewellyn, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Corey Domachowski, 2. Ryan Elias, 3 Keiron Assiratti, 4 Dafydd Jenkins, 5 Will Rowlands, 6 Christ Tshiunza, 7 Jac Morgan (captain), 8 Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: 16. Elliot Dee, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Taine Plumtree, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Mason Grady

England: 15. Freddie Steward, 14. Max Malins, 13. Joe Marchant, 12. Guy Porter 11. Joe Cokanasiga, 10. Marcus Smith, 9. Danny Care; 1. Ellis Genge (captain), 2. Jamie Blamire, 3. Will Stuart, 4. David Ribbans, 5. George Martin, 6. Lewis Ludlam, 7. Tom Pearson, 8. Alex Dombrandt

Replacements: 16. Theo Dan, 17. Bevan Rodd, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Jonny Hill, 20. Tom Willis, 21. Jack van Poortvliet, 22. George Ford, 23. Henry Slade


Welcome to Cardiff for this opening leg for both teams on their journey to Rugby World Cup 2023, commencing in just over a month’s time.

The tone of the match-up is, let’s be honest, of the pre-season hit-out variety as both head coaches take the opportunity to have a thoughtful glare at some players and combinations without the pressure of Tournament Rugby™. This exploration of options does come from a different place for each side, however. England have enjoyed a largely unchanged core for number of years from Eddie Jones to Steve Borthwick (and Stuart Lancaster before, for that matter), with some decent succession planning having already happened – eg Freddie Steward – but with question marks remaining over the 8 and 9 jerseys in particular. There is some internal jeopardy for the England players, as this is final chance to to impress the coach ahead of his naming the RWC squad on Monday.

By contrast, Wales are all over the shop. Warren Gatland’s return has coincided with numerous retirements, players falling out of favour from the previous Pivac regime, promising young centre Joe Hawkins taking the English lucre and rendering himself ineligible post Six Nations; plus the outfall from said previous regime approaching selection like it was a tombola attached to an outboard motor. All of this means the men in red, particularly in midfield, have the cohesion of a bag of gravel in a tumble dryer.

Gatland can point to the fact that he’s had his squad together for a few weeks, and this has previously allowed him to hew an effective gameplan out of the ediface of pain and suffering he asks the players to run into repeatedly. Today is the first chance to see if he’s done so again.

History has taught us that these warm-ups are strange games. They can mean nothing and everything depending on how an observer wishes to spin it, even if they throw up unexpected scorelines, But both teams would rather have a week of building on the energy a positive result brings, rather than the tiring mental gymnastics of emphasising the positives in a defeat.

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