England defeat Wales in World Cup warmup

Manu Tuilagi impresses on debut and Wilkinson shows good form with boot as England secure victory in warmup match.

    Tuilagi looks like a certainty for England's World Cup squad after scoring on his debut [GALLO/GETTY] 

    Manu Tuilagi marked his England debut with a try Saturday, helping his adopted nation beat Wales 23-19 in a warmup for the Rugby World Cup.

    In their last home match before the September 9 - October 23 tournament, England were already 13-7 up early in the second half when Tuilagi took a short pass from Jonny Wilkinson and crashed through to touch down under the posts.

    Voted young player of the year for 2010-11 by the England players' union, the Samoa-born center looks an almost certain pick for the World Cup.

    But England were outscored three tries to two in a match overshadowed by injuries to both sides.

    Wales was hit by the late withdrawal of flyhalf Stephen Jones before Morgan Stoddart - who filled the gap created by Jones' pre-match calf injury by replacing Rhys Priestland at fullback - was carried off on a stretcher with a broken leg.

    "It is gutting for Morgan,'' Wales captain Sam Warburton said.

    "He had a real good shout of making the World Cup squad."

    On the other side, England lost captain Lewis Moody to a knee problem and prop Alex Corbisero to what looked like an ankle injury.

    Round two

    Moody missed England's victorious Six Nations campaign this year and, with competition fierce for back-row places, will be monitored to determine the seriousness of the injury. He said he thought the injury was minor.

    The teams may now have to reshuffle more than originally planned when they meet again in Cardiff next weekend in what will be the second of three warmups for both sides.

    Tuilagi, whose five older brothers have all played for Samoa, was replaced after an hour, suggesting that team manager Martin Johnson wants to keep him fresh so he can take another look at him in the return match.

    Wilkinson scored 13 points for England and was awarded man of the match [GALLO/GETTY] 

    "He played well,'' Johnson said.

    "We struggled to score when we had position in the first half and Manu scored at a crucial time."

    After three months off in the close season, both teams predictably have much to work on ahead of that match. Each side conceded more than a dozen turnovers and missed several tackles.

    "You get far more out of that than you do the 60-pointers you occasionally get," Johnson said.

    "We wanted to go out and play the game in the context of a proper game.

    "There's lots of things to get better at. If you win by 70 points, everyone thinks they're a superstar and what do you work on for next week?"

    Wing George North touched down twice for Wales, with Shane Williams grabbing the visitors' other try. No. 8 James Haskell scored England's first try and man-of-the-match Wilkinson chipped in with 13 points.

    In another warm-up game, centre Joe Ansbro's late try gave Scotland a pre-World Cup boost as they beat an experimental Ireland 10-6 in a scrappy contest at Murrayfield on Saturday.

    The visitors had looked on course for victory thanks to two Jonathan Sexton penalties as they led 6-3 before a sweeping move straight from the training ground put Ansbro through two minutes from time.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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