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Rugby World Cup

England March Into Semis as Wallabies Bow Out

England will play the winner of Ireland’s game with New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals after seeing off Australia in the last-eight

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(Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

England have roared into the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup in Japan with a 40-16 victory over Australia this morning.

A brace of tries from Jonny May as well as five-pointers from Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson saw off the Aussies despite the Wallabies dominating possession throughout. 

The Wallabies started the better of the two sides, going through the phases on a couple of occasions and they were rewarded on 11 minutes as Christian Leali’ifano slotted over a 40-metre penalty. 

However, England hit back immediately and after having a couple of scrums inside the Wallabies 22 they eventually managed to spread the ball out to the wide-left, where May touched down. Owen Farrell sent over a brilliant touchline conversion to make it 7-3. 

England and May were in again two minutes later as David Pocock had a pass intercepted by Henry Slade just outside the English 22. Slade raced forward before realising he didn’t have the pace to make it to the line, so he cleverly sent a beautiful grubber kick forward, which May latched onto before darting to the left-corner to score the try. Farrell again sent the ball over. 

Leali’ifano doubled his personal tally a couple of minutes after the restart as he knocked over another penalty to make it 14-6. 

That was cancelled out by a Farrell penalty just before the half hour mark as England stretched their lead once more. 

With 39 minutes on the clock Sinckler was deemed to be illegally approaching the scrum and from the resulting penalty Leali’ifano kicked over another three-points to reduce the deficit to eight points as the Wallabies went in 17-9 down at the whistle. 

Again it was Australia who came flying out of the blocks after the whistle and three minutes in they were in for their opening try as they put the ball out wide where youngster Jordan Petaia put a lovely pass inside to winger Marika Koroibete. The speedster did the rest as he burst through the England half and out paced Elliot Daly to touch down. 

Leali’ifano provided the extras again to make it a one-point game. 

England came roaring back and three minutes later some poor defence from the Wallabies saw Sinckler break through a gap in the middle of the pitch, putting the ball down over the line. Farrell slotted the easy conversion to make it 24-16. 

Things got worse for the Aussies with little over 30 minutes to play as Farrell was perfect from the tee with another penalty to push England 27-16 in front. 

Despite Australia dominating the possession stats over the next 20 minutes it was England who kept the scoreboard ticking with two further penalties from Farrell. 

The Wallabies tried hard to respond but a loose pass by Kurtley Beale in his own 22 allowed Watson to intercept and sprint over to secure the win for the English. Farrell converted once again in what was the final score of the game to leave it at 40-16 come full-time. 

England will now wait to find out who they will face in the semi-finals as reigning two-time World Cup holders take on Ireland for a place in the last-four and will be confident either way as they continue their bid to win the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time in their history.

Player Ratings

England Starting XV:

Elliot Daly (6), Anthony Watson (7), Henry Slade (7), Manu Tuilagi (7), Jonny May (8), Owen Farrell (8), Ben Youngs (7), Billy Vunipola (7), Sam Underhill (8), Tom Curry (9), Courtney Lawes (7), Maro Itoje (6), Kyle Sinckler (7), Jamie George (7), Mako Vunipola (7)

Replacements (7)

Australia Starting XV:

Kurtley Beale (7), Reece Hodge (6), Jordan Petaia (7), Samu Kerevi (8), Marika Koroibete (8), Christian Lealiifano (6), Will Genia (7), Isi Naisarani (7), Michael Hooper (8), David Pocock (7), Rory Arnold (6), Izack Rodda (6), Allan Alaalatoa (6), Tolu Latu (7), Scott Sio (7)

Replacements (6)

Rugby

Gatland Explains England RWC Final Comments

Warren Gatland has come out to explain his comments around England’s Rugby World Cup final as well as looking back on one vital mistake he made in his career

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(Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Former Wales head coach Warren Gatland has given his reason for predicting England’s fall in the Rugby World Cup final while talking to Off the Ball.

The coaching great, who stepped aside from his 12-year stint with Wales following the conclusion of their World Cup campaign was promoting his new book ‘Pride and Passion’ and explained how the emotional toll of England’s semi-final win over New Zealand was hard to follow up. 

“At the very elite level of sport, it is the emotion that counts. And sometimes when you have a great performance and you are emotionally charged right on the edge, it is difficult to repeat that,” he said. 

It proved to be the case for England as they failed to find another gear in the final, being dominated by South Africa who ran out 32-12 winners. He drew on past experiences in his career to back up his point, including a discussion about the 2013 British and Irish Lions Tour.

“When I look back at my time coaching, there are two examples that really strike out for me. One was in London coaching Wasps, and we played Leicester in the last round. Martin Johnson’s last game and Neil Back’s last game at Welford Road. I completely underestimated the emotion of that. They beat us 45-24 or something like that. Then in the final, I didn’t think they could bring the same level of emotion so we put 40-points on them in the final. It was the same scenario with Australia in the second test in 2013. James Horwill, tears running down his eyes, the effort and energy they put into that, I didn’t think they could bring the same the following week,” he added. 

That Lions tour threw up some major complications for Gatland including a decision to drop Irish legend Brian O’Driscoll for the third test, which caused huge backlash and the Kiwi regrets how he went about the decision that week. 

“The biggest mistake we made was on the Sunday after the second test we put Brian up for media. That was a huge mistake because everyone just assumed with Sam Warburton getting injured that Brian was going to play and going to be captain the following week. So we made the decision and I said to the other coaches ‘there could be a big falling out over this’. I didn’t realise quite the extent,” he finished. 

Gatland’s experience is easy to see and he will take charge of yet another Lions tour in 2021 as he leads his charges to South Africa as he completes the full cycle of tours having also managed them to a series draw with New Zealand in 2017. In the meantime Gatland has taken up a role with Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs as he returns to his homeland looking to add further success to his CV.

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International

Steyn’s Rugby Career Could be Over

Double World Cup winner Frans Steyn could be set to call time on his career early following his latest triumph

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(Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Springboks great Frans Steyn looks likely to at least pull the curtain down on his European career in order to return to his homeland.

The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who managed to pick up medals from the 2007 edition of the tournament and this year’s one, beating England in both finals, is currently contracted to French Top 14 giants Montpellier. 

However, it is believed that he has held discussions with the club about ending his contract come the end of January instead of when it is supposed to expire in July and speaking to South African news-outlet Volksblad, he seems keen on settling down in his homeland. 

“Rugby has always been an inspiration for the Afrikaners, especially for farmers. If we had a bad week, if we watch good rugby on Saturday, then everything is better again. Only good rain, a good rugby weekend gives us the power to face Mondays again. It is a privilege that many farmers do not have. We know what to do in the future and what we need to have in place. We want to raise our children here and are attached to the rural feel that Bloemfontein offers. We want our children to have a good experience here as my wife and I had when one grew up here,” he said. 

The 32-year-old has a family farm in Bloemfontein and it is understood this is not the first time he has made the suggestion to return to the area, but it now looks more likely than ever that he will get what he likes. 

Steyn is expected to return to the French club next week, where he would play until January before his possible move back to South Africa. 

At this time it is unknown whether the back would continue his rugby career with local professional side the Cheetahs, who play in the PRO14, or whether he will end his career early, having played at the top level for such a long time already.

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International

Scots End Row with World Rugby

Scotland and World Rugby have been unhappy with one another for the guts of a month, but they have finally sorted their differences out

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(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

World Rugby have confirmed this morning that the Scottish Rugby Union has accepted the punishment received for comments made during the Rugby World Cup in Japan last month.

The punishment of a £70,000 fine and a meaningful apology was handed to the union following comments made by their chief Mark Dodson, who suggested sueing World Rugby as his team’s clash with Japan came under threat by Typhoon Hagibis. 

In what was a must-win game for the Scots to progress to the knock-out stages, he also criticised the running of the competition by the hosts. Eventually the match was played and Scotland lost 28-21, leaving them heading home, but World Rugby were not happy. 

Having announced the punishment last week, World Rugby have now released a statement to confirm that Scotland have accepted the decision. 

“World Rugby can confirm that the Scottish Rugby Union has expressed its regret and has confirmed it will not challenge World Rugby further on this matter. The Scottish Rugby Union has agreed to pay a donation of £70,000 to World Rugby and the matter is now closed. There will be no further comment from either party,” the statement read. 

It puts and end to a dragged out argument between the organisations which will be a relief to fans. The fine will be donated to the Childfund Pass it Back programme, which is continuing to help the areas affected by the typhoon last month. 

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