England were caught with their pants down by Wales - then left red-faced when they tried to blame the ref.

Eddie Jones’ side missed the chance to put England back on top of the world for the first time since 2004 by losing to opponents they had easily beaten six days earlier.

They instead handed their arch-rivals the world No.1 ranking as Wales knocked New Zealand off the top perch with their 11th straight home win.

And in the process they missed the opportunity to give George Ford and Piers Francis precious game time in alternative half-back positions.

 
George North crosses for the game's only try

Jones described a contest which turned on a moment of English brain freeze as “almost the perfect World Cup prep game for us”.

He then took French ref Pascal Gauzere to task for allowing Wales to take the quick penalty which led to the game’s only try, when there is no law preventing it.

Anthony Watson had just been yellow carded and was making his way off the pitch when man of the match Dan Biggar caught England napping by restarting play for George North to score.

 
Even Billy Vunipola at full throttle could not breach Wales' defence

Jones believed Gauzere should not have allowed it and said “maybe the yellow card should have gone to the referee.

“But you’re not allowed to comment on referees. World Rugby are like Big Brother , they have facial recognition everywhere, you say one word and you’re in trouble.”

The coach’s frustration masked his team’s failure to react quickly enough to the situation - as he and his players later conceded.

 
Dan Biggar delivered another man of the match display against England

“We had to cope with whatever the referee decided was right,” said Jones. “If he wants a variation of the law, we’ve got to be good enough to cope with it.”

Ben Youngs agreed: “As players we have to take the one lesson which is don't switch off when there's a penalty.”

Better to learn lessons in a game of little consequence, of course, than at the World Cup, where there is a good chance these teams will contest a quarter-final.

 
George Ford clears his lines under Welsh pressure

The mind drifted back to 2003 when England made a complete Horlicks of chasing a drop goal winner in a World Cup warm-up game against France but used the lesson to win the final five months later.

After a game in which England failed to score a first half point for the first time in eight years Jamie George conceded: “We were too frantic at times.

“We learnt the value of discipline. We needed a lesson like that and it’s better to learn that now than in Japan.”

 
French ref Pascal Gauzere lectures the two captains

Another moment of concern came when Willi Heinz left the field for a concussion check in the first half.

Had that been England’s World Cup opener and he failed his HIA, Heinz would be ruled out of their second game four days later.

Given Jones is taking only two scrum-halves that presents a very obvious problem. Yet the coach chose not switch his ‘emergency’ nine to scrum-half to practise.

Eddie Jones claimed to be unperturbed by defeat

Sir Clive Woodward accused him of missing a “huge learning opportunity”, saying: “The whole point of these matches is to get yourself ready for what is to come at the World Cup.

“But England are none the wiser about a few key things after this defeat, especially at 9 and 10.”.

ENGLAND - Pens: Ford 2.

WALES - Try: North. Con: Biggar. Pens: Biggar, Halfpenny.

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