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Last Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
England v Tonga as it happened
Result: England 36-20 Tonga



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By Phil Harlow

2147: That was England's best performance of the tournament so far, but there will still need to be a marked improvement if they are to see off Australia in Marseille next week.

2145: "I'd have liked to see England run in a couple more tries, but in a way I feel glad for the Tongans that they haven't been overwhelmed after such a good campaign."
CS on 606

80 mins: Andy Gomarsall runs the ball out to bring up the final whistle with England through to the quarter-finals.

Tonga immediately come into a huddle and share a prayer together.

"A Hard Day's Night" plays over the stadium tannoy and that sums it up for the two teams. A hard-fought match which England did well to win by a 16-point margin.

79 mins: TRY & CONVERSION England 36-20 Tonga
Tonga get the try their play - and their tournament - has so deserved to end on something of a high as Hale T Pole slides in at the corner flag despite Josh Lewsey's presence.

Tonga get on the outside of England and Nili Latu straightens before giving T Pole the chance to score.

Pierre Hola curls in a tremendous conversion.

78 mins: "I'm getting married tomorrow and with family for dinner now. Can only sneak a read of the game on here!"
Tom, Goldsborough near Whitby via text

77 mins: England's tackling in midfield is much improved, and Phil Vickery takes out some of his recent frustrations on the nearest available Tongan with a great hit.

74 mins: Tonga are a beaten side now, but they are still playing with enormous pride, setting up camp in England's 22.

They pass with great skill and put Vungakoto Lilo to within 2m of the line only for Josh Lewsey to haul him down. England concede a penalty as Nick Easter dives over the top but Tonga, trying to force the issue, end up knocking-on.

72 mins: DROP-GOAL England 36-13 Tonga
Lee Mears and Dan Hipkiss both make good ground as England look to finish with a flourish.

The ball comes back to Jonny Wilkinson who, from about 15m out and in front of the sticks, has all the time he needs to slot another drop-goal.

70 mins: Tonga launch an attack down the right wing with a skilful pass to Vungakoto Lilo sending him into clear space.

Josh Lewsey takes him one-on-one and Tonga recycle the ball only for Pierre Hola to launch a long pass straight into the hands of Andrew Sheridan who can hardly believe his luck.

69 mins: England replacements Dan Hipkiss and Lee Mears are on for George Chuter and Paul Sackey.

68 mins: Andy Farrell is looking assured now, finding a good touch with an accurate kick that bounces out to give England another territorial foothold.

65 mins: TRY & CONVERSION England 33-13 Tonga
England rack up a bonus point as the much-maligned Andy Farrell crosses under the sticks after a dummy loop move with Jonny Wilkinson.

He feints to pass to Wilkinson but sets off on the angle and beats Hale T Pole's tackle to score. His team-mates leap on top of him in celebration, and you get the feeling they enjoyed that one.

Wilkinson slots the easy conversion.

64 mins: Lawrence Dallaglio has the chance to back up his words with deeds as he comes on for Martin Corry.

62 mins: England are starting to look like a decent side out wide. Andy Farrell shows good strength and links up well with Mathew Tait. Nick Easter, George Chuter, Ben Kay and Andrew Sheridan are all giving and taking passes with aplomb as well.

Whisper it, but England are showing some signs of a quick and intelligent offloading game with forwards linking up with backs. Who'd have thought it?

59 mins: "Stuck on the M4 with no radio, no food and no water Reading this from a Blackberry is keeping us alive! Go England!
Anon via text

58 mins: England captain Phil Vickery is on the field now, replacing Matt Stevens in the front row.

56 mins: TRY & CONVERSION England 26-13 Tonga
A sigh of relief for England fans everywhere as Mathew Tait scores his first points of the tournament with a well-worked try.

Mark Cueto makes the initial break on the right flank but loses his footing just as he tries to give the scoring pass to Andy Farrell.

England keep their cool though, and sweep the ball out left where they have a two-man overlap. Unlike in recent matches, England finish clinically with Nick Easter straightening up and committing the tacklers before giving Tait enough space to score.

Jonny Wilkinson adds the conversion.

53 mins: PEN England 19-13 Tonga
Tonga, who are starting to dominate in terms of territory, win another penalty at the breakdown. Scrum-half Sione Tu'ipolotu goes quickly and England are not 10, giving Pierre Hola an even easier shot at goal.

The fly-half makes no mistake, and Tonga are back to within six points.

51 mins: Tonga win a penalty after England infringe at the breakdown, and Pierre Hola belts it into England's 22.

In the meanwhile, Andy Farrell comes on for Olly Barkley, perhaps to provide a bit more size in England's midfield against a Tonga centre pairing who have caused problems whenever they have had the ball.

49 mins: England's pack attack Tonga's scrum and Andy Gomarsall is able to pressure the ball and allow Lewis Moody to reclaim possession for England.

48 mins: A cheeky little kick over the top from scrum-half Sione Tu'ipolotu causes panic in England's defence. Three players converge on the ball, but no-ones claims it before it bounces.

Andy Gomarsall eventually clears up but is hauled back behind his try-line to give Tonga a 5m scrum.

47 mins: Andy Gomarsall just keeps a long kick in play inside his own 22, but he has nowhere to go with his clearance, and Tonga have the chance to launch an attack.

46 mins: "Stuck at work waiting for documents from the Dutch, who don't give a monkeys about the rugby. Keep that commentary coming!"
Richard via text

44 mins: Nick Easter gets very lucky indeed as he inexplicably tries to chip over Nili Latu inside his own 22.

Fortunately for him, his chip is absolutely dreadful and goes about two feet in the air before he collects it again. That could easily have given Latu the easiest try of his career.

42 mins: Lewis Moody gets absolutely smashed by a debateable Nili Latu tackle and crumples in a heap with blood pouring from his nose. In mitigation, the rain is lashing down in Paris, and Moody had slightly lost his footing.

The tackle is on the high side and, after consulting with his touch judge, referee Alain Rolland awards a penalty. Jonny Wilkinson lines up his effort, but misses from in front of the posts, albeit from 40m out.

41 mins: Jonny Wilkinson kicks off to get the second half under way. Tonga kick long and Paul Sackey takes the ball into contact before Wilkinson puts an up-and-under too far, allowing Sione Tu'ipolotu to take the ball comfortably.

2052: "Our problem is that we rely solely on Jonny Wilkinson to single-handedly win us every game with his drop-goals, conversions and penalties.

"Therefore we are utter rubbish when he is not fit. So when he is injured, we are like lost dogs. In addition, our defence are rubbish. Counting on Wilko one more time!"
HHW on 606

2050: "England need to keep the Tongans pinned back. They have played very well in the last 20 minutes of the half.

"More of the same in the next half. The Tongans do look dangerous though and this is far from over."
Chrisox on 606

40 mins: Andy Gomarsall runs the ball out to bring the half-time whistle. England are on top, but Tonga are far from out of this.

37 mins: TRY England 19-10 Tonga
An absolute gift for England as Paul Sackey goes 75m after Tonga make a meal of their attack.

A shocker of a pass from Pierre Hola sees Vungakoto Lilo knock-on. Joseph Vaka repeats the offence and Sackey gobbles up the loose ball and cruises in unopposed.

Nili Latu cuts off the angle a little; enough, in fact, to make Jonny Wilkinson miss with his conversion attempt.

35 mins: PEN England 14-10 Tonga
Tonga infringe at the breakdown, bursting through offside, and Jonny Wilkinson edges England a little further clear.

33 mins: An intelligent kick from Andy Gomarsall puts Tonga under pressure in their 22. England turn the ball over and Gomarsall sees space at the back.

Vungakoto Lilo clears it up, but England are well on top at the moment.

31 mins: DROP-GOAL England 11-10 Tonga
Now that's how it's done. Jonny Wilkinson finally makes England's domination of the last 10 minutes or so count on the scoreboard as he slots the three-pointer.

30 mins: Jonny Wilkinson puts in a great kick to force Tonga to throw into a line-out six metres from their try-line.

They knock it on, and England have a perfect attacking platform.

28 mins: England's forwards go through a series of phases and give Olly Barkley the rugby equivalent of an open goal. He is right in front of the posts and about 10m out but somehow manages to skew his effort wide.

Jonny Wilkinson, for reasons unknown, is out on the wing while this is all going on.

27 mins: Poor, poor play from Tonga full-back Vungakoto Lilo as he knocks on after getting the ball from a tapped mark. He's put his side bang in trouble.

25 mins: England put huge pressure on the Tonga scrum, but Finau Maka clears up magnificently. He makes 10m and allows his side to clear their lines.

23 mins: A shame for England as they go through a series of phases, getting some quick ball. George Chuter goes through to just short of the line, but ends up knocking on.

19 mins: TRY England 8-10 Tonga
A moment of genius from Jonny Wilkinson ensures England hit back instantly.

England win a penalty just to the left of the posts about 15m out, and Tonga assume Wilkinson will kick for the points. Instead the fly-half looks up and launches a cross-kick for winger Paul Sackey to collect and dot down a matter of inches short of the dead-ball line.

The video referee is asked to adjudicate, and he eventually decides that Sackey was just in the field of play when he put the ball down.

Wilkinson misses with the conversion from out wide.

16 mins: TRY & CONVERSION England 3-10 Tonga
Fantastic try from Tonga, although there must be some questions asked of England's defence.

Centre Epi Taione makes the initial break, brushing Jonny Wilkinson aside easily. He is tackled by Andrew Sheridan but offloads to Sukanaivalu Hufanga who goes past George Chuter and Josh Lewsey before sliding over the line despite Olly Barkley's tackle.

Pierre Hola kicks the simple conversion.

14 mins: A clever kick to the wing from Andy Gomarsall gives Mark Cueto a chance to challenge in the air. The ball goes loose and bounces into Olly Barkley's path and the centre races up the middle before being hauled down.

It's a promising attack for England, but it hits the buffers when they are pinged for holding on.

13 mins: PEN England 3-3 Tonga
England drive off a line-out and make 15m with a powerful drive.

The ball goes through a couple of pair of hands and into midfield where Tonga concede the penalty for hands in the ruck. Jonny Wilkinson obliges to level the scoring.

10 mins: A poor Tonga kick straight down the middle gives England full-back Josh Lewsey the chance to counterattack, but the ball ends up being kicked aimlessly by Olly Barkley for Sione Tu'ipolotu to call an easy mark.

8 mins: PEN England 0-3 Tonga
Tonga kick long, and Mark Cueto clears up for England. But the winger is isolated and ends up conceding a penalty for holding on about 25m out.

Tonga fly-half Pierre Hola slots the kick to give Tonga a richly deserved lead. England have not got going at all so far.

5 mins: Mathew Tait takes the ball into contact for the first time, but it's a bad start for the England centre as the ball is swiftly turned over.

Tonga launch a counterattack down the right and show an ambition and cutting edge that England have so far lacked.

4 mins: England win their first line-out through Steve Borthwick and drive forward only to commit too few players to the ruck. They end up conceding a penalty for hands in the ruck.

Tonga win the resulting line-out and embark on an impressive and muscular drive, with Finau Maka taking them deep into England's 22. A sharp tackle from Matt Stevens slows the ball down and Tonga end up conceding a penalty as they get themselves in front of the ball carrier.

2 mins: An early scare for England as Lewis Moody, showing his customary lack of regard for his own personal safety, launches himself to try to charge down Vungakoto Lilo's clearance.

He misses the ball but connects his head with Lilo's knee and finds himself flat out on the floor. He receives treatment for a minute or so, but is back on his feet as if nothing happened.

1 min: Pierre Hola kicks off for Tonga, but England deal with it proficiently and Jonny Wilkinson finds a decent touch on halfway.

With their first stint of possession, Tonga send centre Epi Taione straight down route one into Olly Barkley, who is likely to have a busy evening with his tackling.

2002: Tonga go through their usual pre-match "Sipi Tau" - their equivalent of the Haka - and end up literally inches from the England team's faces.

1959: The national anthems are sung with real gusto by both sides. I think they are taking this all rather seriously.

1957: Martin Corry and co are lined up in the tunnel and are just waiting for their opponents to emerge from their dressing room.

The red-shirted Tongans stride down, briefly waiting alongside their English counterparts, and we're off.

1956: "That's a bit more like it. The England fans just started up their first chorus of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" but are being drowned out by the infernal heavy beats thumping out of the PA system.

"Teams just been announced - no prizes for guessing who got the loudest cheers - Finau Maka for Tonga, some bloke called Jonny something or other for England."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Parc des Princes

1955: Tonga win the toss, and opt to kick-off.

1954: "For heaven's sake, if a country with a population of 45 million can't beat a small Pacific Island territory, it's time for us to give up!"
CS on 606

1950: "The England team have just wrapped up their warm-up routine and headed off to the changing rooms.

"Jonny Wilkinson wanted just one more kick at goal though before trotting in to join them. Perhaps those (rugby) balls are still troubling him.

"Ten minutes until kick-off, but the atmosphere is still a bit quiet at the moment. Still quite a few empty seats too."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Parc des Princes

1947: Tonga's players are also in a huddle and the looks on their faces suggest they aren't in any mood to roll over. England are going to have to do this the hard way.

1944: One for the stats fans - England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson (206) needs another 21 points to draw level with Gavin Hastings (227) as the record points scorer in World Cup history, 22 to go past him.

Will tonight be the night for him?

1942: "The whole of the England team are out on the pitch now. The forwards are going through some late scrummaging drills under the supervision of assistant coach John Wells.

"England are likely to target the set-pieces - scrum and particularly line-out - as areas where they could get some joy tonight."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Parc des Princes

1938: The stadium is filling up, and Martin Corry is laying down the law to his team-mates in the middle of a huddle.

1935: "It's been a blustery, wet day in Paris with steady rain for most of it. But it has stopped in time for kick-off, and the pitch looks in good nick so shouldn't be a factor.

"It's sufficiently cold down at pitch level though for Mathew Tait to be wearing a white bobble hat as the England backs go through their passing and kicking warm-up routines. Finau Maka has no such worries though."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Parc des Princes

1927: "Tonight is our launching pad for the 2011 World Cup.

"From today we've got to build a winning culture, where players get used to winning games, rather than accepting defeat as we've got up to now.

By 2011 the entire squad (and possibly coaching staff) will have changed, but the attitude must be there. That starts tonight!"
NR on 606

1921: The weather is far from ideal in Paris, if you're thinking in terms of running rugby.

It's damp and looks likely to make for a greasy ball and playing surface, but Ashton is unconcerned.

"It's fairly typical weather for England players, so there's no excuses from that point of view," he says.

"The players will judge the conditions and play them accordingly."

1919: "The big news from the Parc des Princes is that Tonga appear to have abided by the IRB's demand to remove any trace of green from their hair after their publicity stunt to promote an Irish bookmaker."
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer at the Parc des Princes

1915: Brian Ashton is collared by BBC reporter Sonja McLaughlan.

"Everyone is very focused and positive," says Ashton.

"We all know what the challenge is, and there's a lot of energy in the dressing room. There's no getting away from the fact that it's a massive game for England."

1910: The IRB kill-joys may have stopped Tonga's players' attempts to go into the game with dyed green hair, but there may well be plenty of green-coiffured heads in the crowd.

Our man at the stadium tells us that attractive young ladies are handing out free green wigs outside the tube station.

1900: Evening all (or morning, if you're in Tonga),

There's no mucking about any more. If England fail to win against Tonga at the Parc des Princes they're out. End of.

Even a draw would send Tonga through to the knock-out stages for the first time (unless England get a bonus point and Tonga don't).

England belatedly started to show some signs of life in their last outing, the 44-22 win over Samoa last Saturday, after shocking displays against the USA and South Africa.

Tonga, on the other hand, have been in sparky form throughout, pushing South Africa to the limit in their 30-25 defeat last week.

Now it's winner takes all, and England know they will need to continue on their upward curve.

England 36-20 Tonga
28 Sep 07 |  English
Rugby World Cup photos
28 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
England 44-22 Samoa
22 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 30-25 Tonga
22 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
Samoa 15-19 Tonga
16 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
England 0-36 South Africa
14 Sep 07 |  English
USA 15-25 Tonga
12 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
England 28-10 USA
08 Sep 07 |  English
Rugby World Cup 2007 fixtures
20 Sep 07 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union positions guide
05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment
England RWC team guide
03 Sep 07 |  Team guides
Tonga RWC team guide
03 Sep 07 |  Team guides


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