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Friday, September 17, 1999 Published at 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK

1991: Game goes global

Australia's Michael Lynagh converts Tony Daly's try to end England's dreams

By 1991, the World Cup had changed immeasurably.

There were now 46 countries with membership to the International Rugby Board and the organisation was committed to global expansion.

World Cup betting had installed Australia as favourites, with the All Blacks at marginally longer odds of 6-4.

Only three other countries were given much chance of winning, with England and France at 7-1 and Scotland at 9-1.

[ image: David Campese: A thorn in many a team's side]
David Campese: A thorn in many a team's side
The bookies proved more or less correct. Wales at 150-1, were knocked out in the pool stages after an embarrassing 16-13 defeat to Western Samoa - the first time the islands had defeated an International Rugby Board country.

It was undoubtedly a great victory for the islanders and they progressed to the last eight with a further victory over Argentina and a narrow 9-3 loss to Australia.

In the French Pool, Canada also showed they had improved immeasurably, particularly in the forwards, and comfortably held off Fiji and Romania to take second spot.

England, who had lost their opening game to a Michael Jones-inspired All Blacks side, nevertheless qualified for the knockout stages as runners-up, which meant they would not meet Southern Hemisphere opposition again until the final.

Samoans fall to Scots

The Samoans could not repeat their giant-killing act against Scotland, however, who burst the South Sea bubble with a thoroughly professional 28-6 victory at Murrayfield to earn a place in the semi-finals.

[ image: Western Samoa shocked the Welsh]
Western Samoa shocked the Welsh
England, meanwhile, had won through thanks to a hard fought victory over the French. Led by an outstanding Will Carling, the English pack cleared the way for a touch of class from centre Jeremy Guscott, before Carling beat the French defence to a loose ball over the line.

It all proved too much for the French coach, Daniel Dubroca, who lost control and manhandled New Zealand referee David Bishop. His resignation followed almost immediately.

The other quarter-final in Dublin was also a game of high-drama. Two tries from wing David Campese had seemingly put Australia through, but the Irish clawed their way back to 12-15 with seven minutes remaining.

Then, flanker Gordon Hamilton was set free from a counter attack and sprinted 45-yards for an extraordinary try.

Ireland only had to hold out for five minutes to secure an historic 18-15 win. But Australia had other ideas.

The Irish bungled the kick-off, allowing the Aussies to force a set-scrum back upfield. Horan and Jason Little ran through, Campese was caught, but Lynagh was on hand to break a thousand Irish hearts.

Kiwis expect

Despite the quality and flair of the Aussie back line, the money was still on New Zealand defending their title.

But unfortunately for the All Blacks, Campese was at his most arrogant and lethal. He came off the right wing to slice through for his first try, made the second for Horan and the match was won.

New Zealand had given everything in an attempt to come back from a 13-0 half-time deficit, but the Wallabies never looked like cracking.

[ image: England's Will Carling collects his losers medal]
England's Will Carling collects his losers medal
A dropped goal by Rob Andrew, had already secured England's place in the final after Gavin Hastings, who kicked so well throughout the World Cup, missed an easy penalty in front of the posts.

It was a moment that haunted him for the rest of his career, but for the home fans the line-up could not have been better: the might of England against the flair of Australia at Twickenham.

Australia's Tony Daly scores the only try of the 1991 Rugby World Cup final against England
Unfortunately the match was again disappointing and from the moment midway through the first half when Lynagh converted a Tony Daly try, the Wallabies never looked like losing.

The final 12-6 result could have been closer, had Derek Bevan awarded a penalty-try for a deliberate knock-on by Campese, but it was not to be England's day.

Australian captain Nick Farr-Jones is presented with the William Webb Ellis trophy
The Aussies had secured the game's only try when Willie Ofahengaue won the ball at the tail of a line-out and Australia's two props drove over the line.

England's Jonathan Webb, nervy with the boot all day, managed two penalties but it was not enough and Australia were crowned 1991 world champions

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