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Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK

England win Twickenham thriller

Jonny Wilkinson: Scored 11 points in the opening half

England 45-24 Fiji

England are through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup after securing a 45-24 victory in a thrilling play-off against Fiji at Twickenham.

The BBC's Ian Robertson: "England will be relieved to have safely negotiated this midweek match"
Dan Luger, Neil Back, Phil Greening and Nick Beal crossed the line for the home side, with Jonny Wilkinson again kicking a host of points.

Fiji, however, were far from dominated, dropping the ball twice on the England line and crossing three times with a host of brilliant moves, more reminiscent of sevens than the 15-man game.

Handling proved a problem for both sides, and had Fiji converted their early chances, the scoreline would have been even closer.

Shaky start

Serevi knocked on instantly from Wilkinson's kick-off, but the Newcastle fly-half then knocked on himself.

Fiji were caught offside in the resulting scrum, allowing Wilkinson to slot home the first points of the game.

[ image: Jonny Wilkinson: Another fine performance from the fly-half]
Jonny Wilkinson: Another fine performance from the fly-half
Fiji then picked up the pace, putting together some good phases of play and earning a penalty after Richard Hill was caught offside in the ruck. Serevi converted to level the scores.

On a chilly afternoon, both sides were having difficulty hanging onto the ball. But England clearly wanted to run.

With Fiji pushed back onto their 22, referee Clayton Thomas again penalised the South Sea islanders for offside.

Wilkinson took the opportunity to put England three points ahead.

From the re-start, a superb 40-yard kick from Austin Healey took England inside the Fiji 22 to earn yet another penalty.

Despite the gusting winds, Wilkinson connected superbly to push England 9-3 ahead.

England drop a gear

It was a confident start from England who were unlucky not to secure an early try when Wilkinson cut through the Fijian defence on the half-way line.

In contrast, the England defence looked solid, forcing Serevi to kick behind in an attempt to move his side forward.

[ image: Dan Luger races through a Fiji tackle for England's first]
Dan Luger races through a Fiji tackle for England's first
The kick was picked up by Richard Hill and scrum-half Healey threw a speculative pass, collected by Luger, who finished superbly on the left to cross under the posts for his 11th try.

Fiji attacked England instantly from the kick-off and when Wilkinson cleared straight to Viliame Satala, Nick Beal was yellow-carded for lying on the ball.

Serevi took the penalty quickly, running through the England defence, but Uluinayau knocked on when all he had to do was touch the ball down. It was a lucky escape for England who looked to have dropped down a gear.

Fiji were at last awarded a penalty when Wilkinson was penalised for holding onto the ball. Serevi opted for a lineout.

The England coach Clive Woodward: "It was the Fiji of old"
In a superb move which should have brought a try, Fiji passed quickly along the backs, but again the ball went forward on the line - the culprit this time being Imanueli Tikomaimakogai.

England counter-attacked through Beal, who made good ground on the right.

Dallaglio powered on and Wilkinson played a high ball across-field, collected in the air by flanker Back who crossed over for England's second try.

England step it up

After the break, England clearly came out fired up after an opening-half in which they were, in many respects, outplayed.

Coach Clive Woodward made a number of changes - Mike Catt moving onto the wing as Phil de Glanville slotted into the centre. Matt Dawson replaced Healey at scrum-half, with the Leicester man moving out wide.

[ image: Neil Back: Again proved his worth as a try-scorer]
Neil Back: Again proved his worth as a try-scorer
Tim Rodber then replaced Garath Archer, before Wilkinson added three more points for England, who looked to have been given a roasting by Woodward at the break.

Another three points from Wilkinson took his tally to 17.

But again Fiji hit back with another piece of brilliance, this time set up by Nicky Little who replaced Serevi. Little broke through from a ruck, passing inside to Viliame Satala who touched down under the posts.

Wilkinson slotted another penalty to take England's tally to 30. And minutes later England went over for their third when Beal touched down in the corner after De Glanville and Perry had created the overlap.

But Fiji, yet again, refused to lie down. Little kicked ahead and the ball popped up for Tikomaimakogai who ran in easily under the posts for Fiji's second.

South African prop Ollie Le Roux: "England are a class side"
Nevertheless, it was clearly to be England's day. Dallaglio drove forward and Wilkinson popped the ball to Phil Greening who touched over.

Wilkinson then left the field, replaced by Paul Grayson, after a dangerously high tackle from Fiji captain Greg Smith.

But Fiji had one move left, with Waisake Sototu racing over on the right after Alfred Uluinayau had created space coming into the line.

England had controlled the second-half well, but both sides contributed hugely to what amounted to a superb game of rugby.


England - 15-Matt Perry; 14-Nick Beal, 13-Will Greenwood, 12-Mike Catt, 11-Dan Luger; 10-Jonny Wilkinson, 9-Austin Healey; 8-Lawrence Dallaglio, 7-Neil Back, 6-Joe Worsley, 5-Garath Archer, 4-Martin Johnson (captain), 3-Darren Garforth, 2-Phil Greening, 1-Jason Leonard.

Replacements: 16-Phil de Glanville, 17-Paul Grayson, 18-Matt Dawson, 19-Richard Hill, 20-Tim Rodber, 21-Graham Rowntree, 22-Richard Cockerill.

Fiji - 15-Alfred Uluinayau; 14-Marika Vunibaka, 13-Viliame Satala, 12-Waisake Sototu, 11-Imanueli Tikomaimakogai; 10-Nicky Little, 9-Mosese Rauluni; 8-Ifereimi Tawake, 7-Setareki Tawake, 6-Kolinio Sewabu, 5-Emori Katalau, 4-Simon Raiwalui, 3-Joeli Veitayaki, 2-Greg Smith, 1-Dan Rouse.

Replacements: 16-Jacob Rauluni, 17-Waisale Serevi, 18-Meli Nakauta, 19-Inoke Male, 20-Ratu Alifereti Doviverata, 21-Epeli Naituivau, 22-Isaia Rasila

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