England 25 – Wales 28

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The score line is only a fraction of the story.

Wales had been written off by many people after Jonathan Davies, Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny, all key men in Gatland’s team, were ruled out through injury for the whole tournament. This was because they had been drawn in the ‘pool of death’ alongside Rugby Championship winners Australia and the hosts England who have luxury of playing all the big games at their Twickenham home.

Last night’s game was the biggest clash between England and Wales ever witnessed because the reality is that one of the teams may not progress into the quarterfinals and the loser will almost certainly have to beat Australia and cross their fingers. As a result the hype and press coverage was on a scale very rarely enjoyed by rugby union, the team selections were debate excessively and the centre clash between Sam Burgess and Jamie Roberts was promoted as a physical contest which could shake the foundations of buildings in the surrounding areas of London. It was even a Royal occasion as William (with Kate) and Harry did battle in the stands over brotherly bragging rights.

The game produced was a classic. Two evenly matched sides, countering the others offence with brutal defence and the scoreboard being kept ticking over by metronomic goal kicking.

Mike Brown made himself look a right plum by getting involved with a confrontation, which was nothing to do with him in the first place, before being put in his place by British and Irish Lions captain of 2013 Sam Warburton.

Wales once again had problems with the lineout and fell foul of refereeing interpretations at the scrum. A well finished try from England became the only difference between the sides as Wales stayed in touch on the scoreboard.

Then Wales’ injury curse struck again. Scott Williams was stretchered off the field with a knee injury after being a threat in attack and solid in defence. Liam Williams took a nasty blow to the head and will now need to undergo all the concussion assessment protocols. Incredibly Hallam Amos also managed to pop out his shoulder attempting a hand off on Owen Farrell after the whistle had stopped play. So as a result Wales had a winger playing outside centre, a scrum half on the wing, an outside half deputising at fullback and the apocalyptically useless Cuthbert on the other wing.

Despite these handicaps Wales produced a miraculous try with Lloyd Williams racing up the touchline and putting a delicate cross field kick inside for Gareth Davies to cement himself in the history books.

That was only to draw level. The win came from a perfect penalty kick scored by Dan Biggar from as near as makes no odds the halfway line. But to seal it Wales still had to defend that lead for their lives.

England captain Chris Robshaw turned down the opportunity to tie the game under some illusion they could repeat the bravery of Japan against the Springboks. That was never likely to happen as the colossal Luke Charteris and colleagues dumped England’s driving maul over the touchline.

Wales ran the clock down and who else but man of the match Dan Biggar booted the ball into the stands for the final whistle to cue delirium and ecstasy from Welsh fans across the world.

In the public house I was in beer was thrown everywhere, supporters hit the ceiling they jumped so high in the air, grown men were in tears and people were left speechless by the spectacle they had just witnessed.

However, this is far from being the end of the tournament. Wales now have to count the cost of their mounting injury list and finish the job on Thursday against a motivated Fiji where a try bonus point win could well see them seal their qualification for the next round.

England on the other hand can prepare for a barrage of criticism debating the team selection and the captaincy of Chris Robshaw. Owen Farrell more than proved his worth but the selection of Sam Burgess will be questioned as he offered little other than in defence and even then his inexperience in the sport may have led to them conceding far more points. But now the match against Australia could not be bigger for England at their own tournament.

As for Wales they have once again managed to pull off another smash and grab raid of fortress Twickenham and whatever happens in the rest of the Rugby World Cup that moment of victory last night will be talked about for years and years to come.

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