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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 13:07 GMT 14:07 UK
England unchanged for semi-final
Mike Catt and Brian Ashton after the quarter-final win
Catt keeps his place after a strong performance against Australia
England coach Brian Ashton has named an unchanged team for Saturday's World Cup semi-final against France in Paris.

After a series of injuries he finally had a full squad from which to pick for this game, but has gone for the same XV and replacements who beat Australia.

Centre Andy Farrell, who was forced out of the quarter-final team, is fit but his stand-in Mike Catt keeps his place.

Flanker Lewis Moody was the only worry with a sore shoulder but he has recovered sufficiently to play.


Ashton admitted it made a pleasant change being able to pick the same team two games in a row, but said they would have to produce a different kind of performance to beat France than they did to beat Australia in the quarter-finals.

"It certainly makes a difference. The 22 out there last week more than merit another shot at it this week," he said.

"We need to improve in all areas, we know that. I can't imagine we will catch France off-guard in the same way we caught Australia off-guard."

The decision to go with an unchanged squad means Andy Farrell, who was originally picked for the Australia game, does not even make it to bench, with Mike Catt and Toby Flood in line ahead of him.

"Mike took his chance last week, simple as that. It was a very, very difficult decision," he said.


"Toby came on with 18 minutes to go in a hot pressure situation and I thought he handled himself exceptionally well in all areas of the game."

England will be led out by Jason Robinson, who is winning his 50th cap.

"This is what I came out of retirement for. It is a massive, massive game," said the 33-year-old former Sale player, who is retiring from all rugby after the tournament.

Ashton, who coached Robinson when he left rugby league for Bath, said: "He is a remarkable player and I am delighted he came out of retirement.

England and France have met three times in previous World Cups, England emerging 19-10 winners in a violent quarter-final in 1991 in Paris, and 24-7 in the semi-finals four years ago.

France won the 1995 third place play-off between the teams 19-9.

England won this year's Six Nations encounter, but the French recorded back-to-back wins over England in pre-tournament warm-up games.

Like Ashton, French coach Bernard Laporte has named the same starting XV and bench that won their quarter-final, against New Zealand.

England Robinson; Sackey, Tait, Catt, Lewsey; Wilkinson, Gomarsall; Sheridan, Regan, Vickery (capt), Shaw, Kay, Corry, Moody, Easter. Replacements: Chuter, Stevens, Dallaglio, Worsley, Richards, Flood, Hipkiss.

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