Wales 19 - 9 England: Early English dominance all for nothing in Cardiff

England's cricket team may sit at the top of the world rankings but on this evidence their rugby side still has work to do after looking hopelessly pedestrian in Cardiff. It was third-time lucky for Wales, who dug deep into their reserves of spirit and determination to avoid the ignominy of losing three Tests against their old enemy in one calendar year.

The possession statistics were absurdly lopsided in England's favour, especially in the first half. The visitors enjoyed almost total domination at the set piece and they quickly got the referee on side come scrum time which helped them win the penalty count by a healthy margin, yet the men in white were unable to beg, borrow or buy a try.

Wales lost Gavin Henson to injury after an impressive half hour and they then played short-handed for 20 minutes of the match as first Jamie Roberts and then Mike Phillips were sent to the sin bin for offences at the breakdown, the scrum-half missing the final ten minutes. Still England were unable to take advantage of the extra man to find a way through.

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In the first half Wales tackled themselves to a standstill as England threatened to overwhelm them - it was Rorke's Drift all over again. The Welsh were brave on the back foot although coach Warren Gatland knows that his side won't get away with a repeat performance against South Africa let alone Samoa or Fiji - all of whom Wales must face in New Zealand.

Such was the one-sided nature of this "contest" that it wasn't until the 55th minute of play that the home side put together their first proper series of attacks, sparked when Phillips took a quick tap penalty deep inside his own half. Two minutes later James Hook wriggled his way over the English line for the only try of the match, although there is still no guarantee that his heroics will persuade Gatland to play him at stand-off.

The Welsh self-belief grew from that moment on and two late long-range penalties from Hook ensured that the scoreboard looked far more comfortable for Wales than the match had been.

The Welsh threw bodies into the breakdown while England stood off and while the home team conceded a slew of penalties, not to mention the yellow cards, they also won a host of turnovers and, vitally, disrupted England's attack.

In fairness, the visitors ignored several shots at goal in the first 40 minutes when Toby Flood opted instead to stick the ball into the corner but with the World Cup just weeks away, Martin Johnson must be worried about his back line's decision making and finishing. With Chris Ashton injured, the England backs boast far too many bashers and not nearly enough subtlety, vision or creativity.

Matt Banahan is a case in point. He should have done better in the first half when the 6' 7" English winger was confronted by the diminutive form of Shane Williams ten yards from the line. Williams went high and Hook arrived on the scene to rip the ball from Banahan's arms and win the turnover.He was not alone. Time and again England chose route one to the Welsh try line in an attempt to batter their way over when a couple of passes would have sliced open the stretched Welsh defence.

If momentum is everything with the World Cup coming up fast, Wales may just have done the Scots a small favour by stopping England in their tracks. Johnson's team now look for a win in Dublin, which has not been an easy place to play for a decade or more, before heading Down Under where they face Andy Robinson's side in Pool B.