AAP Rugby

Wales end All Blacks’ reign as rugby No.1

By AAP Newswire

Wales have ended the All Blacks' near-decade long reign as the world's No.1 ranked Test rugby nation just a month out from the World Cup.

Coach Warren Gatland's team went to No.1 in the rankings for the first time after a 13-6 rebound win against Eddie Jones' England in Cardiff - a result which also prevented England claiming the top spot.

Saturday's win came just six days after Wales were thrashed 33-19 by England 33-19 at Twickenham.

They scored the only try to deservedly win the first half 10-0, and produced a typically strong defensive effort to hold on in the second.

Wales became only the fourth team to reach No.1 since the rankings began in 2003. New Zealand had held top spot since November 2009.

The All Blacks were far more impressive hours earlier in their own 36-0 rebound win over Australia in Auckland, but Wales coach Warren Gatland was rapt that his players delivered the response he demanded after being humbled last weekend.

Gatland was even more impressed that his patched-up side held together.

Fullback Liam Williams was withdrawn with a tight hamstring just before kickoff, giving Leigh Halfpenny his first cap this year, and replacement flanker Aaron Shingler finished at lock and backup hooker Elliot Dee on the flank.

"No one panicked, everyone did their job. To see those players comfortable handling that was pretty good," Gatland said.

"That showed great character ... Other teams are going to beat us but if you do you're going to have to play pretty well because they're not going to give it up easy."

England counterpart Jones insisted he was also pleased.

"It was a perfect World Cup prep game up for us, absolutely perfect," Jones said. "We found out about the mentality of our young players, we found out we have a really good cohesiveness in the squad because they fought hard for each other in difficult situations, and we'll leave here with a smile on our face."

They had nothing to smile about early on as England failed to score a point in the first half for the first time since the 2011 World Cup match against France.

Still, it took a yellow card against England wing Anthony Watson in the 31st minute for Wales to score a try.

While England also used the break in play to try and make a substitution, Wales flyhalf Dan Biggar showed his experience to send a crosskick right to wing Josh Adams. Wales recycled, and Biggar's crosskick left to North was caught and scored from.

England return home to face Ireland next weekend, while Wales heads to Turkey for another camp before another home-and-away series against Ireland.