LONDON • An experimental England squad beat a strong Wales team 33-19 at Twickenham yesterday as the hosts followed a typically abrasive first-half lead with a composed second-half performance.
An England line-up featuring only a handful of regular starters overpowered Wales thanks to tries from Billy Vunipola, Joe Cokanasiga and Luke Cowan-Dickie, as well as flawless kicking from captain and flyhalf George Ford.
"We ripped in together, it wasn't perfect but we found a way. We want to start building a winning mentality, there's still lots to work on," Ford said.
The visiting Grand Slam winners struggled for attacking cohesion throughout, despite tries for Gareth Davies, George North and Alun Wyn Jones, and compounded their woes with an injury to flyhalf Gareth Anscombe.
Debutant scrumhalf Willi Heinz was among a number of fringe England players that advanced their claims for inclusion in the World Cup squad that coach Eddie Jones will name today.
England play three more warm-up matches - away to Wales and at home against Ireland and Italy - before heading to Japan, where they kick off their campaign against Pool C opponents Tonga on Sept 22.
England's only concerns from yesterday's game will be the fitness of flanker Tom Curry, who impressed before limping off, and their habit of conceding clusters of penalties.
Wales, meanwhile, will need to regroup ahead of the return fixture in Cardiff on Saturday, and work out how a defence that conceded only seven tries in the entire Six Nations and rarely left gaps was pierced so regularly by England. The two sides could face each other in the World Cup quarter-finals in October.
South Africa, meanwhile, will go into the World Cup on a high after winning their first Rugby Championship in a decade on Saturday.
The Springboks put in an accomplished display as they routed Argentina 46-13 in Salta, going through the shortened competition unbeaten.
Their marked improvement is far removed from the horror years of 2016, when they suffered eight Test defeats, and 2017, when they were obliterated 57-0 by the All Blacks for the worst result in the history of South African rugby.
But things have since turned around and there is now a belief that they can beat any team on their day.
Captain Duane Vermeulen said: "We are happy with our performance, but there are still a few things to work on. It's a great feeling for us to walk away with the title but, in the end, it's a stepping stone for us going into the World Cup."