Warren Gatland said Wales’ record defeat to South Africa in Cardiff had made his World Cup selection task easier.

Gatland names his 33-man World Cup squad on Monday on the back of a chastening 52-16 thumping to the Springboks.

After two warm-up games against England, in which Wales won once and lost once and generally saw the reputation of their young team enhanced, Gatland’s side were dismantled by opponents boasting 659 Test caps to their 235.

South Africa’s victory – the first time Wales have conceded 50 points under Gatland – comfortably eclipsed their previous biggest win in Cardiff – a 34-12 in 2007.

Asked if the game had answered a lot of questions on his World Cup selection before next month’s tournament in France, head coach Gatland said: “I think so. We’ll go back to the hotel, sit down as coaches and hopefully finalise it.

“If we need to have more discussion hopefully we can do that on Sunday. Possibly some of those questions that we’ve got would have made it a little bit easier for our discussions.

“It was disappointing. I thought we were dominated physically on both sides of the ball.

“We’d spoken to the players about the physicality they’d bring and playing against the world champions. They’d just come out of a Rugby Championship.

“The only positive I can take is hopefully there’s a lot of learning that some of those players will have got from it.”

Experienced trio Alex Cuthbert Dan Biggar and Liam Williams all dropped out of the original team with minor injuries.

Wales have more pressing concerns on the injury front with hookers Dewi Lake and Ryan Elias, second row forward Dafydd Jenkins and back-rower Taine Plumtree all picking up knocks during the August matches.

Gatland also has to make calls on number eight Taulupe Faletau and outside-half Gareth Anscombe, who did not feature in the three games.

On Faletau and Anscombe, Gatland said: “I think they are in contention because of their experience.

“If they were a young player it would be very, very difficult to select them, but given their vast amount of experience they will definitely be part of those discussions.

“Part of the thing we wanted to do was everyone take part in training this week to build confidence.

“When you have a defeat like that, it’s about how do you look at the positives when you are reviewing it as a group.

“There’s some easy fixes in terms of probably four or five of those tries are easy enough to stop and then all of a sudden there’s a different complexion on the game.”

Gatland was critical of the 34th-minute yellow card given to Rio Dyer when Wales trailed 12-9.

Dyer batted a loose ball away from Canan Moodie as he closed in on a try, but replays appeared to show that it had hit the hand of the Springboks wing first. A penalty try was awarded and South Africa scored 12 points with the wing off the field.

“I thought Rio Dyer was really unlucky to have a yellow card and a penalty try because the angles we’ve looked at we are 100 per cent certain it’s touched the green player,” said Gatland.

“For me that’s a pretty tough call and we’ve conceded straight away from the kick-off. It was an important moment in terms of the way the game went.”

South Africa find themselves in arguably the toughest World Cup pool with Ireland, Scotland and Tonga for company.

The Springboks start the defence of the trophy they won in Japan four years ago against Scotland in Marseille on September 10.

“We have to get better in France,” said South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber after his side’s eight-try show in Cardiff.

“We are on the side of the draw that is knock-out from game one. Just to get out of pool we have to be on form.”

Aaron Wainwright admits Wales will face a team that sets the bar in terms of physicality when they meet World Cup warm-up opponents South Africa on Saturday.

Wales’ final preparation Test promises to be a full-on spectacle at the Principality Stadium, with reigning world champions South Africa parading many of their star names.

Fit-again captain Siya Kolisi returns to the starting line-up after recovering from a serious knee injury, while 390 caps worth of experience up front also includes players such as Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Pieter-Steph du Toit.

“We have spoken about physicality all week,” Wales number eight Wainwright said.

“If there is a team you are going to come up against at international level that is going to set the bar physicality-wise it is going to be South Africa.

“We have spoken about what we can bring to them in the physical test.

“Let’s not wait for them to bring the challenge to us. Let’s get off the line and meet them and show what we can do physically.

“I think the past two games we have played against England we have set our mark physicality-wise and it’s about building on that now, taking it into Saturday and then the World Cup.

“It is going to be a big test for us, but we have spoken about that and we know that is coming.”

Wainwright looks like being a key part of Wales’ back-row armoury at the World Cup.

He made his Test debut in 2018 and featured during the following year’s global showpiece tournament in Japan, but he has also experienced time in the wilderness, not being involved for 14 successive Tests before Wales faced France in last season’s Six Nations.

“Going to Japan quite young and experiencing that World Cup, I look back with fond memories, but I probably did not capture it as well as I would have liked to,” he added.

“The training camps I have gone on this time in Switzerland and Turkey I have been able to experience things a lot more, enjoy working hard and being around the boys.

“I played the final game of the Six Nations and loved my opportunity to get back on the pitch and put the red jersey on again.

“You can see the depth we are developing across the back row. Taulupe (Faletau) is out for now, but he is pretty close to returning, which is great for the team and for him.

“For me, it is another chance to put my hand up on the weekend and show what I can do.

“I enjoy my rugby more when I get my hands on the ball and carry. If I can keep doing that, I can keep putting my hands up.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s final 33-strong World Cup squad will be announced on Monday, but a formidable Springboks challenge means that minds cannot be allowed to wander.

“It is going to be in the back of people’s minds, naturally, because it is a World Cup selection,” Wainwright said.

“But is about getting on the pitch and playing as well as you can and letting the rest take care of itself.”

Wales play their final World Cup warm-up Test on Saturday when they tackle South Africa at the Principality Stadium.

It is a last opportunity for players to impress before Wales head coach Warren Gatland announces his 33-player World Cup squad.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the talking points heading into the game.

Last-chance saloon?

Wales’ World Cup hopefuls will know within 48 hours of the final whistle against South Africa whether they have made Gatland’s squad. A tough preparation period has included training camps in Switzerland and Turkey, plus home and away appointments with England, and decision day is now looming. Wales currently have a 48-strong group while only two players – injured pair Gareth Anscombe and Taulupe Faletau – will not have been involved in the warm-ups, although they are widely expected to make the World Cup squad. Saturday’s game sees some players entering the last-chance saloon.

Captain Morgan in the driving seat

With Ospreys flanker Jac Morgan leading Wales in two of their three preparation Tests, he is now an odds-on favourite to be the World Cup captain. The 23-year-old set a high bar during Wales’ 20-9 victory over England on August 5, and he has been handed the reins against South Africa. Gatland appointed a 22-year-old Sam Warburton as his World Cup skipper in 2011, and Morgan is out of a similar mould as an outstanding performer who has huge respect from playing peers and coaches alike. No-one can seriously question his credentials for the job.

Wales in decent shape

When Gatland returned for a second stint as Wales boss seven months ago, off-field issues abounded and spilled over into the Guinness Six Nations. Welsh rugby was gripped by financial strife and contractual uncertainty, with a threatened players’ strike only averted three days before England arrived in Cardiff. Wales finished fifth in the tournament, winning a solitary game, but Gatland has now stamped his mark during a priceless three-month period with the players, and the whole environment feels and looks a better place. Wales were World Cup semi-finalists twice during Gatland’s previous reign. Enough said.

The future looks bright

There will inevitably be a sense of crushing disappointment for those players not selected in Wales’ World Cup squad, but the seeds of Wales’ 2027 campaign in Australia are already being sown. Gatland’s preliminary training squad announced in May contained 10 uncapped players, and he has not been afraid to give them a chance. Centres Max Llewellyn and Joe Roberts and prop Corey Domachowski are among those who have impressed, while the further progression of players such as fly-half Sam Costelow, centre Mason Grady and lock Dafydd Jenkins has been met with considerable excitement. Whatever happens on Monday, Wales’ player pool is rippling nicely.

Siya Kolisi’s timely return

When South Africa’s 2019 World Cup-winning captain suffered a knee injury in April and subsequently underwent knee surgery, doubts surfaced about whether he would be fit in time for the Springboks’ title defence. It has been a long road back, but Kolisi will make his first appearance of the year in Cardiff after missing the Rugby Championship. South Africa face New Zealand at Twickenham next Friday, then it is full steam ahead for a World Cup opener against Scotland on September 10. With their figurehead back, it should feel like business as usual for the Springboks.

Warren Gatland has been backed to turn around Wales’ fortunes and lead them towards the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

Nigel Walker, the Welsh Rugby Union’s interim chief executive, hailed Gatland during a press conference unveiling of Abi Tierney as the organisation’s new chief executive – a post she will commence by the end of this year.

New Zealander Gatland is eight months into his second stint as Wales head coach after replacing Wayne Pivac and he is preparing for a fourth World Cup at the helm during September and October, having masterminded semi-final appearances in 2011 and 2019.

Wales finished fifth in the Guinness Six Nations last season, while Gatland inherited a squad that lost nine out of 12 Tests last year.

“The contract was a five-year contract. There is a clause (believed to be after the World Cup in France), but I cannot see any circumstances whereby we would invoke that clause,” Walker said.

“We feel we have one of the best coaches in the world, if not the best. I am confident Wales will do well in the World Cup.

“It’s a long-term project, and from what I’ve seen, Warren is quite capable of turning around the fortunes of Wales.”

Asked for his reaction to Walker’s comments, Gatland said: “I am just focusing on the short term.

“I have never been a person who thinks long-term too much in terms of my own personal situation. I am a great believer in what will be, will be.

“I have already said that the work this group has done and strides we have made, I think we can do something pretty special at this World Cup, and I honestly believe that.

“If that happens, then those other things take care of themselves.”

Wales complete their World Cup warm-up schedule on Saturday by tackling South Africa, and they will be without British and Irish Lions Liam Williams and Dan Biggar.

Both players had been selected to start the game in Cardiff, but have been withdrawn as a precautionary measure.

The WRU said that full-back Williams has a tight hamstring, with Biggar suffering from back irritation.

Cai Evans is promoted from the replacements’ bench to make his Test debut as Williams’ replacement, while Sam Costelow takes over from fly-half Biggar.

Gatland added: “Both of them, if we pushed them hard, could play on Saturday, but the decision was made there is no point taking a risk at this stage.

“If this was a World Cup semi-final, Dan Biggar would have been fine for the weekend.”

Forwards Dewi Lake and Taine Plumtree, who were injured during Wales’ narrow defeat against England at Twickenham last weekend, are on course to be available for the World Cup opener against Fiji in Bordeaux on September 10.

Saturday’s clash in Cardiff is a last chance for players to impress Gatland, who will announce his 33-strong World Cup squad within 48 hours of the final whistle.

“There is an opportunity for players on Saturday. We will come back as a coaching group after the game and finalise the squad,” Gatland said.

“We are confident that those players carrying injuries are going to be available for the first game against Fiji.

“We will get a pretty detailed injury update in terms of all the players in the squad, the ones carrying knocks and when they can return to full-time training and when they are available.

“Potentially, there may be one or two decisions, which has happened in the past, where we are still undecided and we might sleep on it and make a final decision potentially on the Sunday.

“Then it’s a matter of notifying the players and announcing the squad on Monday.”

Owen Farrell’s participation in the World Cup is in doubt again after World Rugby appealed against the decision to overturn his red card from Saturday’s clash with Wales.

An independent disciplinary panel caused an outcry on Tuesday when it cleared Farrell to play despite his shoulder-led tackle to the head of Taine Basham that was expected to result in a significant ban.

But having examined the written judgement of the hearing, World Rugby believes there are grounds for an appeal, the date for which has yet to be confirmed.

The furore surrounding England’s captain – instigated by a verdict that 2003 World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward insists has “made the game a complete and utter laughing stock” – has had repercussions for Saturday’s clash with Ireland.

Steve Borthwick had intended to pick Farrell for the Dublin showdown but revealed when announcing his team that he had been forced to revise his plans, instead starting George Ford at fly-half with Marcus Smith present on the bench.

“In my original planning for the Summer Nations Series and as part of our World Cup preparation, Owen Farrell was due to be selected to play in Saturday’s Test,” Borthwick said.

“However, in light of the fact that so much of Owen’s training and match preparation time this week has been significantly affected and interrupted by the disciplinary process, I have not selected him in the matchday 23. Owen will travel to Ireland with our full support.

“Owen understands the situation but is of course disappointed, as I am, that he is missing such a special game that he would otherwise have played in.”

Cheryl Foster’s performances at the Women’s World Cup have sparked a refereeing boom in Wales.

Foster, a former 63-times capped Wales international, has been awarded the third place play-off between Australia and Sweden in Brisbane on Saturday – her fourth game of the tournament.

The 42-year-old from Bangor refereed the Women’s Champions League final in June and her rise in the game comes at the ideal time for the Football Association of Wales, who last month launched its referee academy for women and girls.

“Cheryl is an incredible role model for the next generation,” FAW head of women’s and girls football Lowri Roberts told the PA news agency.

“She is an excellent referee and the fact she is a former player has encouraged a lot of girls in academies and youth teams to take up refereeing.

“A lot of girls are not going to make it as professional footballers and Cheryl has shown the life experiences that are possible when you take up refereeing.

“We have developed some elite officials in Cheryl – who has been so visible at the World Cup – Charlotte Carpenter and Ceri-Louise Williams, but we do not have enough referees currently in women’s football.”

The FAW has used FIFA funding to set up the Adran Leagues Referee Academy, a targeted programme to recruit and develop referees to service the rapid growth of the women’s game in Wales.

The Adran Under-19s League will be utilised as a development platform for referees as well as players.

More than 100 women and girls have signed up for September’s induction workshops in north and south Wales. At present Wales has 52 active female referees.

Although more than 50 per cent of referees in men’s football are over 35 years of age, 80 per cent in the women’s game are under 35 and 50 per cent are under 18.

Roberts said: “Girls make up 14 per cent of the total participation numbers in Wales, 10 per cent of the coaches but only five per cent of match officials.

“This has led us to develop this targeted plan to increase the number of women officials and the bespoke mentoring and training programme will be built around the needs of our referees.

“In order to professionalise our Adran Leagues, we need to develop all areas of the game, and we hope this programme will find us the next Cheryl Foster and Charlotte Carpenter.

“We are reinvesting in the game and normalising the role of women in football and the recruitment and retainment of referees is a key part of that.”

Wing Alex Cuthbert and centre Johnny Williams will make their first appearances of Wales’ World Cup warm-up schedule against South Africa on Saturday.

Williams partners Mason Grady in midfield, while there are also starts for the likes of scrum-half Kieran Hardy and hooker Elliot Dee.

Flanker Jac Morgan will captain Wales for the second time in three games, suggesting he is a firm favourite to skipper Wales at the World Cup.

Taine Basham, meanwhile, is among the replacements for the Springboks’ Principality Stadium visit.

Basham failed a head injury assessment following a shoulder-led tackle to his head by England captain Owen Farrell at Twickenham last weekend.

Farrell was sent off, but in a decision that sent shockwaves throughout the rugby world his red card was overturned by a disciplinary panel.

The Welsh Rugby Union said that Basham “was not a confirmed concussion following completion of all three stages of the head injury assessment (HIA) protocol”.

Warren Gatland hinted there may be repercussions for World Cup selection after Wales surrendered a strong position in slumping to a 19-17 defeat by England at Twickenham.

The hosts had been reduced to 12 men after Owen Farrell’s yellow card was upgraded to a red by the ‘Bunker’ review system at a time when Freddie Steward and Ellis Genge were sat in the sin-bin.

Wales led 17-9 but against the odds England scored the next try when Maro Itoje rounded off a maul before George Ford landed a conversion and penalty to seal a come-from-behind victory.

“I’m furious we didn’t win the game, but it answered a few questions for us about certain individuals,” head coach Gatland said.

“The game management in that final quarter wasn’t good enough. We should have been comfortable.

“It was a big moment not taking the kick-off and giving England back a bit of momentum by not clearing our line, allowing them to score from that and get back into the game. That was disappointing.

“We capitulated in terms of our accuracy and with some guys not knowing their roles. For me that was disappointing because we’ve spent a lot of time ensuring there is clarity and everyone knows their roles.

“We gave away some soft penalties where we piggy-backed them up the field and gave them those chances. We’ll have learnt a lot from that.”

Wales’ inability to close out their first victory at Twickenham since 2015 completed a largely promising double-header against England that began with a solid 20-9 win in Cardiff.

Gatland has one last warm-up game to finalise selection for the World Cup, with South Africa visiting the Principality Stadium two days before he unveils his 33-man squad.

Dangerous Fiji are their opening opponents in France next month and Wales’ boss believes his players are being sufficiently battle-hardened.

“There are still some players we need to find out about and potentially give an opportunity to,” Gatland said.

“You couldn’t ask for better warm-up matches in terms of the physicality we are looking for, with England home and away and then South Africa.

“It’s going to be the same sort of test up-front against South Africa and we need to take the learnings from Twickenham.”

Wales are waiting for fitness updates on Dewi Lake and Taine Plumtree who suffered respective knee and shoulder injuries.

Taine Basham failed an HIA after being struck by a dangerous tackle by England captain Owen Farrell.

Owen Farrell will learn on Tuesday if he is to miss England’s critical World Cup opener against Argentina after he was sent off for a dangerous tackle against Wales.

Farrell’s shoulder-led challenge to the head of Taine Basham in Saturday’s 19-17 victory at Twickenham was upgraded from a yellow card to red by the ‘Bunker’ review system.

England’s captain must now appear before a video disciplinary hearing that begins on Tuesday morning to find out the length of his suspension.

The mid-range sanction for a dangerous tackle is six games and given he received a three-match ban for the same offence in January, on top of five matches in 2020 and two in 2016, it is doubtful he will be treated leniently by the disciplinary process.

Fixtures against Ireland and Fiji complete England’s warm-up schedule for the World Cup before their group campaign is launched with a pivotal group clash with Argentina in Marseille on September 9.

Steve Borthwick now faces the likely prospect of being without his skipper and talisman for the toughest opponents in Pool D, while his participation against Japan, Chile and Samoa are also in question.

Henry Arundell, Freddie Steward and Ellis Genge were shown yellow cards too and at one point England were reduced to 12 men, although that merely inspired an audacious comeback expertly directed by Farrell’s replacement George Ford.

Courtney Lawes, the frontrunner to become captain if Farrell is unavailable, admits that despite an escape act that showed remarkable resilience, the disciplinary implosion must be addressed.

“There aren’t many teams who would win that game, so we can take a lot of positives from it,” Lawes said.

“At the same time it’s not good enough going down to 12 men. If we keep putting ourselves in situations like that, we’re not likely to do as well as we did.

“We’ve got a lot to learn but it’s great to show everyone our strength in character so early and it gives us confidence to push on and get things right so that the next time we’re out there we get one step better.

“Sometimes you’ve got to find a way to win and we certainly did that against Wales. We will do our very best to take it forward and keep on improving.”

Farrell’s looming absence justifies Borthwick’s decision to pick three fly-halves in his World Cup squad and it was Ford who took centre stage in an unlikely comeback, his match-winning penalty only one element of a masterclass in game management.

“This win is going to be big for us. You can’t put a value on stuff like that,” Ford said.

“However you train and whatever scenarios you train, it’s not like it is in the heat of the moment when you have three men in the sin-bin, are points down and under the sticks.

“You can never replicate that and this gives us unbelievable belief, a real solid platform to know what we can do.

“Traditional English rugby is set-piece orientated, so getting on top there to be able to play the game we want to play and we’ll take some real belief from that.”

Ford insists England, who are sweating on the fitness of ankle-injury victim Jack van Poortvliet, will rally around Farrell.

“Owen’s not a player who would intentionally want to do that. We’ll get behind him, he’s our captain and our leader and he’ll be back,” Ford said.

England and Wales meet at Twickenham on Saturday in their second World Cup warm-up Test.

Wales won the opening encounter, scoring 14 unanswered second-half points as tries from Gareth Davies and George North saw them home 20-9.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the key points heading into their latest clash.

England summon the cavalry

England have assembled their big guns as they enter must-win territory just two games into their World Cup warm-up campaign. Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly, Maro Itoje, Billy Vunipola and Jamie George are among the front-line stars in action at Twickenham, and potentially only Ellis Genge and Tom Curry are missing from the strongest XV. With the pivotal opener against Argentina on September 9 fast approaching, England need a reassuring performance and to avoid a fourth successive defeat that would continue a worrying downward spiral.

Momentum key for Wales

Wales have not won back-to-back Test matches since November 2021 when they beat Fiji and Australia, so there is a need to build on last weekend’s impressive 20-9 warm-up victory over England. Head coach Warren Gatland has made 15 changes as the clock continues ticking towards his World Cup squad announcement, and Saturday’s encounter will be the final opportunity for many players to impress. Wales have lost on their last six visits to Twickenham since the 2015 World Cup, which underlines the size of challenge ahead, but there were hints of a feelgood factor returning as a 65,000 crowd roared them home in Cardiff.

Dewi Lake in the spotlight

Flanker Jac Morgan led Wales with distinction at the Principality Stadium last Saturday, putting himself in pole position to skipper his country at the World Cup. Gatland, though, has said he will use the August schedule to assess captaincy candidates, and 24-year-old Ospreys hooker Lake now steps forward on his international return after shoulder and knee injuries meant he did not play Test rugby last season. Lake is a proven performer at the highest level, and he is likely to soak up the extra responsibility that awaits him.

Vunipola and Earl take centre-stage

If given the chance, Daly and Henry Arundell will provide thrills on the wing, but it is in the back-row where England’s most interesting picks reside. Vunipola makes his first Test appearance since the autumn – and because of a knee injury his maiden outing of any description since April. As the squad’s only specialist number eight and most destructive carrier in the forwards, he needs to hit the ground running. Earl, meanwhile, is rewarded for his perseverance with a full debut after winning all 15 previous caps as a replacement. Dynamic in attack, the Saracens openside can help ignite England.

Warren Gatland’s stamp is all over Wales

Last season’s Six Nations campaign – which marked Gatland returning for a second stint as Wales head coach – was one to forget, with a fifth-placed finish being accompanied by major off-field issues that almost led to a players’ strike. Fast-forward five months, though, and Wales appear to be a different beast. Demanding training camps in Switzerland and Turkey were followed by victory over England – “too fit for them” were Gatland’s words as he left the Principality Stadium last weekend – and it has been the New Zealander in his element, relishing a fourth World Cup campaign and loving nothing more than a chance to prove the doubters wrong.

England have selected a host of big guns led by Owen Farrell for Saturday’s clash with Wales as they look to ignite their World Cup preparations in the wake of a tame defeat in Cardiff.

Farrell captains a side that sees Billy Vunipola make his first Test appearance since the autumn, having missed out on the Six Nations on form grounds and then undergone successive knee operations.

Vunipola is the only specialist number eight to have been picked in England’s World Cup squad, making the Twickenham showdown a key moment in his comeback having been sidelined since April.

Following a 20-9 loss in the first of four warm-up matches, head coach Steve Borthwick has picked a team close to his strongest XV that also features Jamie George, Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes.

One of England’s shortcomings at the Principality Stadium was their inability to capitalise on the chances created in the first half but in Elliot Daly and Henry Arundell there will be two quality finishers present on Saturday.

Daly is making his first England appearance since the 2022 Six Nations, having fallen out of favour under Eddie Jones and then seen his recall for this year’s Championship scuppered by a torn hamstring.

Scarlets centre Joe Roberts will make his Wales debut in a team showing 15 changes for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up clash against England at Twickenham.

Roberts, 23, is partnered in midfield by Nick Tompkins, while there are also starts for the likes of wing Tom Rogers, fly-half Owen Williams, lock Rhys Davies and flanker Tommy Reffell.

Hooker Dewi Lake captains a side that sees Taine Plumtree, who lines up at number eight, handed his first Test start following an impressive performance off the bench in Wales’ 20-9 victory over England last weekend.

Wing Josh Adams, who was top try-scorer at the 2019 World Cup in Japan, wins his 50th cap.

Warren Gatland will send out a team “desperate to perform” at Twickenham next weekend as competition for World Cup places intensifies.

Wales boss Gatland is relishing the battle to make a 33-strong World Cup squad that will be announced later this month.

The final phase of preparation for the tournament could hardly have started in more promising fashion, with Wales’ 20-9 victory over England being underpinned by a dominant second-half display.

It was Wales’ third-biggest win of the professional era against their fierce rivals, and Gatland will now run the rule over other World Cup selection candidates in south-west London.

“There is a lot of competition in the squad,” Gatland said.

“In 2019 when we won the (Six Nations) Grand Slam, we had a settled side and we knew what a large number of our World Cup squad was going to be.

“I can tell you now there is a lot of competition in this team. It’s a good start, and the pleasing thing is there’s a group of players who will get an opportunity next week who are desperate to perform.

“I think the boys showed the work we’ve done over the past eight weeks or so that we are in a pretty good place, physically.”

Wales kept an England side that conceded 22 turnovers scoreless in the second period, turning around a 9-6 interval deficit to triumph through tries from scrum-half Gareth Davies and centre George North.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny converted both scores and kicked two penalties on his 100th Wales appearance, leaving him just five points short of 800 in Test rugby.

Wales paraded five new caps, with the second-half introductions of former England prop Henry Thomas and back-row forward Taine Plumtree proving key to Gatland’s men posting a first home victory since November last year.

Gatland, meanwhile, said that hooker Ryan Elias and lock Dafydd Jenkins will undergo scans on Monday after being forced off with hamstring and knee injuries, respectively.

Among several eye-catching performances was that of fly-half Sam Costelow, who took his chance to shine in front of a 65,000 Principality Stadium crowd.

“I will take a lot of learnings from it. It showed me where I want to be and where I can get,” Costelow said.

“I have been doing a lot of work with (Wales assistant coach) Neil Jenkins in the training week, helping me with kicking and the game-management side of things. It is about keeping improving.

“You have just got to work hard every day. That is the biggest mindset, really, turning up every day and trying to improve.

“In the second-half we managed to find a way and we started putting some phases together, and I thought we had some decent outcomes.

“We played in the right areas, getting opportunities higher up the field and creating chances, which we probably didn’t do in the first-half.”

England’s experimental side tumbled to a 20-9 defeat by Wales at the Principality Stadium in the opening match of their warm-up schedule for the World Cup.

The only Test to take place before head coach Steve Borthwick names his 33-man squad for the tournament on Monday, it was seen as the stage to influence the handful of remaining selection calls.

Few emerged with credit from the contest, but here the PA news agency looks at three players who gave Borthwick a timely nudge.

Lewis Ludlam

England’s most effective forward in Cardiff by a significant margin, carrying with intent and disruptive at the breakdown. Started at blindside flanker against Wales but covers all three back-row positions, including number eight where Alex Dombrandt once again proved unable to stamp his authority on a Test. Factor in his leadership and defensive steel and the Northampton captain could be a valuable asset at the World Cup, having travelled to Japan four years ago as a bolter.

Joe Marchant

Of all England’s players on display at the Principality Stadium, it was Marchant who seized the opportunity to show Borthwick why he should be included in the squad announced on Monday. The dynamic 27-year-old provided pace and sharp running lines to an attack that showed signs of life in the first half before crumbling amid a host of handling errors. Marchant’s 16 caps have largely been hit and miss, but he offers something different and covers wing as well as centre.

Joe Cokanasiga

Although hardly a stellar display, there was enough on show from Cokanasiga to suggest he could make an impact at the World Cup. The Bath wing of Fijian heritage hunted for the ball and punched holes in the home defence and while his rugby instincts may fail to match his athleticism, his power would be an X-factor asset to England’s backline. Vulnerable defensively at times and can be targeted with a clever kicking game, but his key tackle on Louis Rees-Zammit was an important moment.

Steve Borthwick said he would reflect ahead of his World Cup squad announcement following England’s lacklustre performance in their 20-9 defeat to Wales.

England withered after leading 9-8 at the interval in Cardiff, making over 20 handling errors in total and being outshone after the break as head coach Borthwick was given plenty to ponder less than 48 hours before naming his World Cup squad.

“I will give a period of reflection,” Borthwick said. “I will reflect where I am in terms of the squad selection and whether this game changes anything or clarifies anything regarding that.

“It is another piece of information in terms of the full picture, which is what I was always after on each and every one of the players to make the best informed decision.

“This game informs many different elements and it is another step as we build forward through these four games.

“I’m looking forward to announcing the squad on Monday and the Test match against Wales at Twickenham next Saturday.”

England will also travel to Ireland and host Fiji before heading to the World Cup in France next month.

Borthwick will be able to reintegrate players who were absent at the Principality Stadium but who are expected to start England’s World Cup opener against Argentina on September 9.

On England’s underwhelming display, Borthwick said: “We created a load of opportunities, but in Test rugby you have got to score when you are down there.

“Instead, we came away with three penalties. So, we created no scoreboard pressure.

“Our line-out and scrum went well in the first half, but at the mid-point in the second half, in both of those areas of the set piece we faltered.

“We also made a large number of handling errors and errors in contact against a team that jackal hard for the ball. We couldn’t sustain pressure because we turned the ball over.

“The turnover count I saw was 21 to nine and it’s very difficult to win Test matches with that. We created opportunities in the opposition 22 and we’ve got to take them.

“We’re still in quite a big training phase and we will sharpen up over the next three games together.”

England second row Dave Ribbans will be assessed after leaving the field with a HIA in the second half.

Second-half tries from Gareth Davies and George North rewarded Wales’ dominant second-half show, although injuries to Ryan Elias and Dafydd Jenkins threatened to take the gloss of their victory.

Hooker Elias left the field as early as the sixth minute while second row Jenkins suffered a knee injury in the second half.

Head coach Warren Gatland said: “They’ll be scanned on Monday. Ryan looks like a slight hamstring tear but it’s not too bad.

“I thought the two second-rows were great, so with Daf we are hoping it isn’t too serious a knee injury.”

Wales had won only two of their previous 10 games but Gatland, who took over before the 2023 Six Nations Championship, believes his squad have benefited from pre-World Cup camps in Switzerland and Turkey.

He said: “I think we’ve done a lot of work as a group in the last eight weeks. The line-out defence was excellent and we competed well.

“Despite the scrum penalties, I thought we dominated there. I need some clarity from the referee in terms of the decisions.

“We were winning the collisions and the hit. It’s a good start.

“The pleasing thing is there’s a group of players who will get an opportunity next week who are desperate to perform.”

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