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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 October 2007, 09:41 GMT 10:41 UK
Mortlock defends England style
Stirling Mortlock (right) and Jonny Wilkinson
They have played smart and that's why they are in the final

Stirling Mortlock on England
Australia captain Stirling Mortlock has lent his backing to England's World Cup tactics, but believes South Africa will beat them in Saturday's final.

England have received criticism for their forwards-oriented game, despite seeing off the Aussies and hosts France on their way to the showpiece in Paris.

But Mortlock said: "England have played smart and to their strengths. They have proved all their knockers wrong.

"But I can't see past South Africa. It will be tight, but they are quality."

England were written on off in many quarters following their 36-0 pool stage defeat to South Africa a little over a month ago.

The odds on Brian Ashton's side even reaching the final drifted to 80-1 at that point, but England have responded in remarkable fashion.

Group wins over Samoa and Tonga preceded shock victories over Australia and France to help the reigning champions become only the second team in history to recover from a group defeat to make the World Cup final.

Much of that has been down to a fine effort from the pack, and Mortlock said: "Their tactics have been pretty consistent the last three times and I wouldn't think they would change too much.


"Try-scoring opportunities have been hard to come by and decisions have had a big impact on the results.

"So they have played smart and that's why they are in the final.

"But South Africa have the ability to overcome those tactics and I'd say they will come out the winner."

  • Mortlock will miss half of next year's Super 14 season after injuring his shoulder at the World Cup. The 30-year-old needs shoulder reconstruction for the third time in his career.

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    England 14-9 France
    13 Oct 07 |  English
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