England solidified their position as the fourth best team in the World Rugby Rankings after a 27-13 victory over Wales on Sunday at sunlit Twickenham.
Eddie Jones’ side gained 0.61 of a rating point as a result of their second home win over Wales in less than three months, boosting their overall tally to 84.60 points when the rankings are officially updated at 12 noon on Monday.
Even with George Ford enduring an off day with the boot – he missed all but one of his seven attempts at goal – England were far more comfortable winners than when they limped over the line to defeat Wales 25-21 en route to a Six Nations Grand Slam.
Wales, who were looking for a repeat of their Rugby World Cup 2015 success at the same ground, raced into a 10-0 lead after just 12 minutes following a try for Rob Evans and Dan Biggar’s conversion and penalty.
However, the visitors from across the Severn Bridge were unable to sustain the momentum and by the time impressive back-row Jack Clifford sped home to put England two scores up on 47 minutes, the game was all but up.
Luther Burrell (main picture) and Anthony Watson finished well to get England back into the match, after they were stung into action by Wales’ fast start, before Ben Youngs showed all his sniping qualities to score a trademark scrum-half try from another perfectly executed lineout.
Clifford’s runaway effort, after he pounced on spilt pass on halfway, completely took the wind out of Wales’ sails and Marland Yarde added a fifth on the hour mark to kill off the game for good.
Wales’ defeat results in them losing fifth place in the World Rugby Rankings to Argentina. They are now on 82.49 points, one tenth less than Los Pumas.
Elsewhere in Europe, Finland consigned Bulgaria to last place in the European Nations Cup Division 2D after a 24-13 victory in Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table clash in Helsinki. They also fell just short of overtaking Bulgaria in the rankings after moving up three places to 97th. Bulgaria are 0.64 of a point better off in 96th.