Wales down England in Cardiff

by Staff Writer

James Hook inspired Wales to victory over England with a haul of 13 points and the game's only try in the World Cup warm-up game in Cardiff on Saturday.

Hook's touchdown on 58 minutes punished the English who had enjoyed the majority of the possession but failed to make use of it.

Wales defended for the first 20 minutes of the second half, and hit England with Hook's try as the fullback stepped inside prop Dan Cole to score under the posts.

The win puts the Welsh in good heart ahead of next week's match against Argentina but England do not have another Test before they have to announce their World Cup squad on 22 August.

But it was not all good news for the Welsh however as Gavin Henson did not get the chance to press his World Cup claims.

The centre went off after 32 minutes with a wrist injury and was due to have a scan on Saturday night.

England's build-up to the game was disrupted by the withdrawal of winger Chris Ashton, their most dangerous finisher, on the morning of the match.

The Northampton winger turned his ankle before training on Thursday and was replaced by Matt Banahan.

Banahan's first act was to give away a penalty converted by Rhys Priestland in the opening minute after being beaten to the ball by George North from the kick off.

Toby Flood levelled it almost immediately with North the culprit but Priestland restored the Welsh lead when England prop Dan Cole was penalised at a scrum.

England made the better chances once Danny Care came on at scrum-half for Richard Wigglesworth after half an hour.

The Harlequins number nine breached the Wales defence twice but England could not capitalise and were denied a penalty try after five scrums on the Welsh line to the clear annoyance of manager Martin Johnson.

The teams were level 6-6 at the break but with Jamie Roberts in the sin bin soon after the break and England enjoying most of the possession Wales had their backs to the wall.

But after 20 minutes absorbing everything that England could throw at them Wales hit the visitors with a sucker punch when Hook went over under the posts from short range.

Scrum-half Mike Phillips enjoyed quick possession as man of the match Sam Warburton and his back row got the better of the English breakaway unit and Hook extended the Welsh lead with his first penalty on 68 minutes.

England had no answers and when Hook added his second penalty from the half-way line the win was secured and revenge for last weekend's defeat at Twickenham was gained.

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