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Jonny Wilkinson kicks 24 points as England beats Samoa

Jonny Wilkinson kicks 24 points as England beats Samoa

Jonny Wilkinson scored 24 points in his World Cup comeback and captain Martin Corry and winger Paul Sackey each grabbed two tries as 2003 champion England beat Samoa 44-22 Saturday to get its title defense back on track.
Wilkinson put on a near flawless show of kicking in the first half, hitting two penalties, a drop goal and two conversions.
He also threw a cutout pass and put in a perfectly weighted kick to set up England's two first half tries and had an assist in Sackey's last gasp try that sealed a bonus point.
After the break Wilkinson's radar faltered as he missed a penalty, a drop goal and a conversion. But his value to England was there for all in the crowd of 37,022 at the La Beaujoire stadium to see.
"It is nice to see him fit, nice to see him back in the side and I am sure the guys who played around him were pleased as well," coach Brian Ashton said of Wilkinson.
Wilkinson recovered from a training ground ankle injury to play his first World Cup match since kicking the winning drop goal against Australia in the 2003 final in Sydney.
Wilkinson's accuracy was matched by stand-in Samoa kicker Loki Crichton, who kicked five penalties and a conversion for 17 points as Samoa battled bravely but failed to avoid its third straight Group A defeat and elimination.
Scrumhalf Junior Polu scored Samoa's only try in the 47th minute.
England opened the defense of its world title with an unconvincing 28-10 win over the United States before slumping to a 36-0 humiliation by the Springboks. But it can now qualify for a likely rematch of the 2003 final against Australia in the quarterfinals if it beats Tonga in its final group match.
"It's a fight to the death on Friday night," Ashton said of the looming Tonga showdown.
Samoa lost 59-7 to South Africa and then went down to a shock 19-15 defeat to Tonga, its first loss to its fierce South Pacific rival in seven years.
The Samoa players put on a haka war dance for the crowd after the match, but could not hide their disappointment at going out with a match still to play.
"We did have England, but we blew it," said coach Michael Jones. "We put them under a lot of pressure and they hung tough and that's the sign of a good team and they put us to the sword in the last 10 minutes."
Samoa had not beaten England in their four previous meetings, and was immediately under pressure when Simon Shaw charged down a kick and Joe Worsley looked certain to score until the ball bounced unkindly for him.
From the ruck, however, England spun the ball slickly through the backs to the left wing and then back again to the right before Wilkinson threw a cut out pass to the right wing where Corry plowed over for the try.
Wilkinson converted that and capped another period of strong England forward play with a drop goal in the sixth minute.
Crichton, in for injured fullback kicker Gavin Williams, pulled back six points with penalties in the 9th and 11th minutes. The second came after powerful charges by brothers Henry and Alesana Tuilagi forced England to infringe deep inside their 22 to avoid conceding a try.
Wilkinson continued to punish Samoa with his boot when he slotted a penalty after England had stolen a lineout and the Samoans failed to roll away at the ruck. However, the talismanic flyhalf proved he was fallible when he missed a straightforward penalty in the 26th minute.
Wilkinson's boot again came to England's rescue when he put through a perfectly weighted low kick for Sackey to touch down in the 32nd minute and then kicked the conversion.
The Samoans then brought the crowd to its feet with a series of scintillating runs as the first half wound down. England conceded two penalties which Crichton converted as they defended its line.
Crichton narrowed the lead again with a 42nd minute penalty before Wilkinson was hammered high in a tackle by Brian "The Chiropractor" Lima. The England flyhalf recovered and calmly kicked the penalty.
Samoa finally got the try its attacking intent deserved when Polu beat Mathew Tait to touch down a deft kick by hooker Mahonri Schwalger. Crichton kicked the conversion to make it 26-22.
Samoa continued to plow forward until a 70th minute Wilkinson drop coal appeared to settle England's nerves.
He then kicked a towering penalty from just behind the center spot after Samoa's restart failed to go 10 meters and a player handled the ball in the scrum to give England a 10-point cushion with eight minutes to play.
England made sure of the win when Sackey sliced through Samoa's tiring defense and flicked the ball up to Corry to score his second try from close range in the 76th minute.
Wilkinson, who converted to bring his points tally to 24, then passed to Sackey, who capped another brilliant run with a try in the corner after the 80 minutes were up to give England its bonus point.


Updated : 2021-10-17 14:46 GMT+08:00