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RWC 2003 HIGHLIGHTS – England edge Springboks at Subiaco

18 October 2013

  • Greenwood try and Wilkinson's boot brings England to vital group-stage win
  • South Africa left to rue missed chances from the tee

An opportunistic try from Will Greenwood and the unerring accuracy of Jonny Wilkinson’s kicking helped England oust South Africa 25-6 in a tense Pool C encounter at Perth’s Subiaco Oval.

Jonny Wilkinson aims a shot at the posts

Photo: Getty Images

The final winning margin may have suggested comfort for Martin Johnson’s men, but in truth this was an extremely tight affair that was only decided after the hour mark.

Indeed, the Springboks enjoyed by far the better of the first half and should have built a substantial lead before the break thanks to some territorial dominance.

England – forced into two changes with Kyran Bracken and Lewis Moody replacing Matt Dawson and Richard Hill, who picked up knocks against Georgia – did enjoy the early ascendancy.

Wilkinson slotted an early penalty before a Jason Robinson break was very nearly finished off on the left-hand side by Mike Tindall.

Martin Johnson carries

Photo: Getty Images

However, back-rower Joe van Niekerk was on hand to make a fine last-ditch tackle and his team began to wrest momentum back.

Fly half Louis Koen drew South Africa level when Trevor Woodman was forced into a set-piece infringement and then had another chance from halfway.

His long-range attempt dropped short though, and minutes later Wilkinson punished opposition skipper Corne Krige for breaking early from a scrum to put the tournament favourites 6-3 ahead.

This only gave way to a series of Springboks chances from the tee as England became oddly frantic. Thankfully for Clive Woodward, three of these were missed and although Koen did tie things up again just before half time, Rudolph Straeuli’s charges would have been disheartened.

England emerged far more composed in the second half and a pair of Wilkinson penalties steadied any nerves, the 24 year-old Newcastle Falcons sharpshooter once more displaying his unflappable temperament.

Will Greenwood dives over

Photo: Getty Images

Then, on 63 minutes, came the moment that clinched it. Koen dallied an instant too long over a clearance just outside his 22 and Moody executed a trademark, textbook charge-down. The loose ball broke to Greenwood, who calmly fly-hacked into the dead-ball area and slid in to seal the tie.

Wilkinson converted before adding two drop goals in quick succession following late surges from Ben Cohen and Lawrence Dallaglio. The margin was somewhat flattering, England did deserve their probable prize of a quarter final against the runners-up from Pool D.

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, hear from Clive Woodward and Martin Johnson as they reflect on this important win.