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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 November, 2003, 11:50 GMT
England edge Wales in thriller
England 28-17 Wales
England's Jason Robinson
England: 28
Try: Greenwood
Con: Wilkinson
Pens: Wilkinson (6)
Drop: Wilkinson
Wales: 17
Tries: S Jones, Charvis, M Williams
Con: Harris

England booked their place in the World Cup semi-finals, but only after Wales gave them a huge scare in Brisbane on Sunday.

Steve Hansen's side led 10-3 with 43 minutes gone and it was only in the second-half England finally managed to snuff out the dragon's fire.

Stephen Jones, Colin Charvis and Martyn Williams claimed three tries for Wales and although Will Greenwood hit back, 23 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson ultimately proved the difference.

While Clive Woodward's side now head to Sydney for a semi-final with France, Wales head home.

But the men in red will return as heroes after also running the All Blacks close last weekend.

In a furious opening quarter, Wales were inches away from an early score when Robert Sidoli was brought down by Lewis Moody on the line.

If we play like that we won't stand a chance next week
England coach Clive Woodward

England again looked out of sorts, as Steve Thompson struggled to find his men in the line-out and Wilkinson failed to find touch with the boot.

Both the Newcastle captain and his Welsh counterpart Jones then missed straight-forward penalties, before England finally got on the scoreboard when Wilkinson slotted his second attempt.

The score calmed England's early nerves, but still the Welsh defence held firm and, minutes later, it was Wales who were celebrating, thanks to a bizarre cross-field kick from Mike Tindall.

Hoping to find lock Ben Kay, the ball was instead picked up by Welsh flyer Williams, who darted up field and fed the ball out before re-gathering to send fly-half Jones over on the left.

The Scarlets number 10 missed the conversion but with his team-mates playing with verve and confidence it hardly seemed to matter.

England, in contrast, were sluggish with the ball in hand and looked incapable of breaking through.

And again it was Wales who took the honours before the break when captain Charvis powered over from a close-range penalty after Jones spurned a kick for goal.

England coach Clive Woodward made the changes at halt-time with Mike Catt replacing Dan Luger.

They needed a flying start and they got it in a moment of brilliance from Jason Robinson, who tore through the Welsh midfield, beating five men and drawing the sixth to feed the ball out to Greenwood.

We're gutted but we've come a long way
Wales coach Steve Hansen
Wilkinson's conversion brought the scores level at 10-10 and two further penalties left the red shirts looking jaded.

Mark Jones then spurned an almost certain try when he opted to go it alone, despite having Williams outside him.

And Wilkinson made Wales further pay for that decision with his third penalty of the half - to the visible relief of the England bench.

Nine points ahead, Woodward's side finally began to look more like their old selves.

But then came a superb cross-field kick from replacement fly-half Ceri Sweeney that Dallaglio failed to secure and Martyn Williams touched down to keep English nerves on edge.

Harris' conversion brought his side back within eight points, but England had the last word with a Wilkinson drop-goal that guaranteed an appointment with a revitalised France next weekend.


England: J Robinson, D Luger, W Greenwood, M Tindall, B Cohen, J Wilkinson, M Dawson; J Leonard, S Thompson, P Vickery, M Johnson (capt), B Kay, L Moody, N Back, L Dallaglio.
Replacements: D West, T Woodman, S Shaw, J Worsley, K Bracken, M Catt, S Abbott.

Wales: G Thomas; M Jones, M Taylor, I Harris, S Williams; S Jones, G Cooper; I Thomas, R McBryde, A Jones; B Cockbain, R Sidoli; D Jones, C Charvis (capt), J Thomas.
Replacements: M Davies, G Jenkins, G Llewellyn, M Williams, D Peel, C Sweeney, K Morgan.





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