England beat France to reach World Cup Final

World Champions England have beaten France in the Rugby World Cup Semi-Final and are now in the World Cup Final for the second successive time. England are now in the Final for a record-equalling third time (Australia the only other team to appear in three Finals).

It's also the second time in succession that England have defeated France in a WorldCup Semi-Final. In 2003, England defeated the French 24-7 at the same stage.

England also shut up the critics who say they can't score tries an win only by kicks at goal - England outscored France by one try to zero, the try coming just a minute and a half into the game, the fastest ever try in a World Cup Semi-Final....

Wilko the hero again as England stun France to reach World Cup final

World Cup Semi-Final
France 9-14 England

13th October 2007
Daily Mail

Jonny Wilkinson kicked England into their second successive World Cup final as they stunned host nation France in an intense contest tonight.

Wilkinson, whose drop goal won the 2003 final against Australia in Sydney, struck five minutes from time after France's replacement hooker Dimitri Szarzewski high-tackled Jason Robinson.

Jonny Wilkinson kicks a drop goal to seal dramatic victory for England over France

He then followed his penalty with a trademark nerveless drop goal - and France were sunk.

The victory continues England's remarkable transformation from a team that looked down and out only four weeks ago.

The mental strength that underpinned victories over Samoa, Tonga and Australia once again surfaced.

Wing Josh Lewsey scored an early try, and Wilkinson kicked a penalty; yet England trailed for much of the game through three penalties from France fly-half Lionel Beauxis.

England nonetheless prevailed and march on to the final in which they will face South Africa or Argentina at Stade de France next Saturday.

Pre-match statistics were stacked against England, given Les Bleus won five of the last six Tests against them, and they had recorded just a solitary victory on seven previous visits to Stade de France.

Quarter-final results last weekend, though - notably England's win over Australia and France defeating pre-tournament favourites New Zealand - meant the World Cup form book had been turned upside down.

England, smashed 36-0 by South Africa at the same ground a month ago, returned to French rugby's 80,000-capacity home quietly confident they could send the host nation packing.

But France also had huge incentive, not least proving they could avoid a repeat of chronic opening-night nerves when World Cup surprise package Argentina toppled them in this tournament's first game.

England made a spectacular start, taking the lead after just 80 seconds - courtesy of glaring complacency in defence.

England's Josh Lewsey scores the opening try of the match

Scrum-half Andy Gomarsall launched a speculative kick into the French 22, but full-back Damien Traille chose to invite a chasing Lewsey instead of clearing possession - and the result was costly.

Lewsey pounced on Traille's indecision, touching down wide out - but Wilkinson missed the touchline conversion, before Beauxis kicked an eighth-minute penalty.

France soon established themselves in the game, monopolising possession as they edged ahead when Beauxis landed a 48-metre penalty - after powerhouse England scrummager Andrew Sheridan was punished for incorrect binding.

England kept themselves in contention despite the French onslaught, and France suffered a 25th-minute injury blow when lock Fabien Pelous hobbled off.

Pelous, who came off second-best in a collision with Wilkinson, was replaced by France's consistently damaging impact substitute Sebastien Chabal.

He was immediately in the wars, taking a heavy blow in a tackle - which illustrated England had no intention of playing second fiddle.

But England suffered an injury blow on the stroke of half-time, losing Lewsey with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.

Damien Traille of France is tackled by Mathew Tait

Leicester centre Dan Hipkiss replaced him, meaning a switch to the wing for outside centre Mathew Tait; yet England remained firmly in contention at 6-5 adrift.

The second quarter proved a hugely disappointing affair, after such an intense opening - and with neither side's kicking game operating at maximum efficiency, errors abounded.

France coach Bernard Laporte could have been excused replacing Beauxis at the break - but he decided against it, holding back the irrepressible Frederic Michalak.

Beauxis duly completed his penalty hat-trick on 44 minutes, but it was a harsh decision awarded against England by South African referee Jonathan Kaplan for an illegal ruck entry.

England stormed back up field, and Wilkinson rifled over an angled penalty - narrowing the gap to 9-8 when France failed to clear following a bungled Yannick Jauzion kick.

Laporte could wait no longer, sending Michalak on after 51 minutes - but he also sprung a surprise, replacing captain Raphael Ibanez with Szarzewski.

England almost regained the lead after 59 minutes. But Wilkinson's drop-goal attempt hit the post, before full-back Robinson produced a dazzling run which highlighted an encouraging Red Rose spell of pressure.

France, despite enjoying the lion's share of possession and territory, could not break clear on the scoreboard - which meant England were still in contention.

When substitute flanker Joe Worsley produced a stunning try-saving tackle on Les Bleus wing Vincent Clerc, it underlined England's never-say-die spirit.

Wilkinson then administered the killer blows, destroying France's World Cup dream.

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

France: Traille, Clerc, Marty, Jauzion, Heymans, Beauxis, Elissalde, Milloud, Ibanez, De Villiers, Pelous, Thion, Betsen, Dusautoir, Bonnaire. Replacements: Szarzewski, Poux, Chabal, Harinordoquy, Michalak, Dominici, Poitrenaud.

Referee: J Kaplan (South Africa)

Perhaps European Rugby May Not Suck After All ...
Yeah it does cause it is still rugby!
#4  Top Rated Post
I watched that match between France-England. Yes, indeed, it was an intense match and one to be long remembered.

But what puzzled me was why the ref gave the ball to England in the 69th minute. France was only inches from the try line and would have won if they could have scored. But once they were forced to give up the ball, it turned the tide in favor of the Brits.

Phil B
Quote: Originally Posted by gopher View Post

I watched that match between France-England. Yes, indeed, it was an intense match and one to be long remembered.

But what puzzled me was why the ref gave the ball to England in the 69th minute. France was only inches from the try line and would have won if they could have scored. But once they were forced to give up the ball, it turned the tide in favor of the Brits.

I missed that particular incident - I was attending a wedding and was having to sneak out periodically to watch...

But, I would guess at a technical infringement, of which there are many in Rugby - my money would be on either handling in a ruck or offside.
I've got the game tivo'd so I'll let you know when I see it.