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RWC 2003 HIGHLIGHTS – Wilkinson kicks England past Wales

08 November 2013

  • Wilkinson kicks 23 points to take England into semi-finals
  • Woodward's men come from 10-3 down to set up meeting with France

Jonny Wilkinson led England into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals after a huge scare against Wales in Brisbane.

Wales were 10-3 in front after 43 minutes and England's World Cup ambitions looked under threat, but Clive Woodward's team responded in the second half to claim a 28-17 victory.

Though Will Greenwood started the fightback with a second-half try, it was Wilkinson who kicked 23 points to eliminate a spirited Welsh side.

Victory sets up a semi-final meeting with France in Sydney for England. However, the game also serves as a wake-up call, with Woodward warning afterwards that they "won't stand a chance" if they play the same way against the French.

Wales attacked the match with great adventure and flair, and they reaped their rewards in the opening period.

Steve Hansen's side gave England an early warning when lock Robert Sidoli barged through a Wilkinson tackle and looked destined for the opening score, only to lose the ball under pressure from Lewis Moody.

After Wilkinson had kicked England into a 3-0 lead, Wales transformed their early promise into points.

Shane Williams began a terrific counter-attack from his own half and rejoined the move ten metres from England’s line to provide a sublime pass for fly half Stephen Jones to dive over.

The conversion was missed but Wales increased their lead when Colin Charvis lunged over the line in the same corner after Wales had opted to kick for touch and drive.

Trailing 10-3 at the break, England needed a response.

Jason Robinson provided the required spark soon after the break when he fielded a long clearance kick and, from his own half, skipped his way through the Welsh defence before lining up the last defender and sending Greenwood over in the right corner.

Wilkinson kicked the touchline conversion and the comeback was on. England's attack started to find its fluency and after a series of charges at the Welsh line, which led to a penalty against the under-pressure defence, Wilkinson kicked them into the lead.

The fly half extended England’s advantage with another penalty in front of the posts after Wales were penalised at the breakdown.

Mike Catt had come on to provide a calm head in the England midfield, and his mighty clearance kick heaped the pressure on Wales once again and led to a further three points for Wilkinson.

England further exerted their strength at the breakdown and the Welsh pack duly conceded another two penalties, which Wilkinson converted in consummate fashion.

There was still plenty of fire left in the Welsh dragon, though, and substitute scrum-half Dwayne Peel started a great move that resulted in Martyn Williams touching down following a cross-field kick that England failed to deal with.

Fittingly, however, Wilkinson had the final word as he scooped a pass off his boots and thumped over a drop goal from just inside the Welsh ten-metre line.

To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 Rugby World Cup win, RFU.com is posting highlights and reaction from each of England's matches. On Monday, head here for reaction to this quarter-final fightback.