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Wales top world rankings for first time after beating England

Wales went top of the world rankings for the first time after beating England 13-6 in Cardiff.

Credit: PA

Wales' rise to the summit, which ended New Zealand's unbroken 10-year occupation, comes just 34 days before the World Cup kicks off in Japan.

It was an impressive warm-up performance for the tournament as they reeled off an 11th successive home win.

Wing George North's 34th-minute try sent Wales on their way to avenging a 33-19 defeat at Twickenham last weekend, while Dan Biggar converted and kicked a penalty to leave England 10 points adrift at half-time.

But there was an injury scare for Wales when Biggar took two blows to his left shoulder - he eventually went off five minutes from time - only six days after his fellow number 10 Gareth Anscombe suffered a World Cup-ending knee injury.

England were slicker and more cohesive after the break, but Wales restricted them to a couple of George Ford penalties before a late Leigh Halfpenny strike sealed victory.

Credit: PA

Wales were also forced into a late switch after full-back Liam Williams suffered a hamstring issue during the warm-up, meaning that Halfpenny was handed a first Test match appearance since November.

Wales made a high-tempo start, twice testing England full-back Elliot Daly under the high ball and looking to move possession wide at pace, before an eighth-minute fracas among the forwards ended with referee Pascal Gauzere warning and penalising Wales prop Tomas Francis.

It gave England some territorial momentum, with number eight Billy Vunipola and wing Joe Cokanasiga prominent, and there was a sign of Halfpenny's rustiness after such a lengthy international lay-off when he could not gather a steepling Ford kick.

James and Jonathan Davies, the first brothers to start together in Wales colours for 13 years, were at the heart of their team's attacking efforts, but a lively opening quarter ended scoreless.

James Davies went off after 24 minutes after it appeared that England lock Maro Itoje's knee accidentally caught him on the head, with Josh Navidi replacing him.

Biggar kicked a penalty to open the scoring, and England then had Watson sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on. Wales punished him before he had barely left the pitch.

Josh Adams made a break before possession found its way to Biggar, whose clever kick was caught by an unmarked North on the wing Watson would have been defending, before he touched down and claimed his 38th Wales try.

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Biggar converted, with England seeing scrum-half Willi Heinz going off for a head injury assessment and being replaced by Ben Youngs and Wales securing a 10-0 interval advantage.

Heinz returned for the second period before Youngs took over from him permanently, while Aaron Shingler replaced an impressive Aaron Wainwright in Wales' back row and England prop Joe Marler also appeared for a first time since coming out of international retirement.

Ford kicked two penalties in six minutes to cut Wales' lead, but England could not breach the Welsh defence and they were left frustrated seven-point losers following Halfpenny's long-range penalty during the closing stages.

Wales now head to Turkey for a week of training and will resume pre-World Cup action against Ireland in a fortnight's time.

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We're obviously delighted to get a win. We're all fully aware we didn't front up last week. A huge defensive effort there.

Really pleased to get it over the line and dig it out as we have done over the years.

The forwards were brilliant all day.

England's strength is at the set-piece and from the line-out and to keep a world-class team like England tryless was a fantastic effort.

(On being number-one team in the world) We probably got a bit caught up in that last weekend.

We just want to keep going about our business.

We ground out a win and we're looking to get better.

It's nice to be where we are.

– Dan Biggar, Wales fly-half
Credit: PA

We're a team of 3.3 million, so we can be happy with that.

Satisfied - just.

The first half was a definite improvement (on last weekend).

There were probably patches in the second half where we dropped a little bit.

We worked on physicality and being quicker off the mark and we had that today."

(On Biggar's return to fly-half) Ten is a position at Wales that has always been in vogue.

Credit to Dan, he stood up today knowing the pressure was on and he delivered.

– Alun Wyn-Jones, Wales captain
Credit: PA

I said to the boys in the changing room we have to show massive character as we had to dig pretty deep and lost two second rows, so we had four front rowers on.

We showed some brave character and that's what we're about. If you want to beat us you have to play pretty well."

I think we've done a good job of winning over the support of a few Japanese fans.

It will be a challenge for all the countries involved. Hopefully we will start off well and get out of our group and to the quarter-finals.

– Warren Gatland, Wales head coach