Rugby World Cup Pool A: Biggar’s boot helps Wales edge England
Wales threw Rugby World Cup Pool A wide open with a famous and narrow 28-25 victory over tournament hosts England at Twickenham.
Dan Biggar, replacing Leigh Halfpenny in the visitors’ XI, proved a key selection for Warren Gatland with the fly half kicking a magnificent and decisive seven penalties.
Gareth Davies’ converted try inside the last 10 minutes cancelled out the first-half crossing of England winger Jonny May, with the hosts having leading 22-15 and 25-18 after the break.
Just as Biggar justified his selection by Gatland, so did counterpart Owen Farrell for the hosts after Stuart Lancaster picked him over George Ford with five penalties and a drop goal.
England captain Chris Robshaw will be left to rue a last-minute decision, however, which cost his country the match. Lancaster also creates further debate by bringing Ford on at fly half and switched Farrell to inside centre, despite a perfect kicking record alongside Biggar.
Davies’ try that dragged Wales level at 25-25 came about by a superb chip from replacement Lloyd Williams. Mike Brown, so key to England’s tournament opening win over Fiji with two tries, was then penalised in the tackle, allowing the boot of Biggar to put Wales ahead for the first time since the early exchanges.
When the hosts received a penalty at the death, however, Ford went for territory instead of points and kicked into touch. This very late line-out was an attempt to gain a decisive try rather than a draw, but brave Wales defending stopped England.
The price of a famous Welsh win here, however, was further injuries to Liam and Scott Williams, who were both stretchered off, plus Hallam Amos.
England have seen their odds to win the Rugby World Cup with Coral drift out to 5/1 from 9/2, while Wales are shortened to 12/1 to 20/1. Gatland’s team are now 11/8 favourites to top Pool A, narrowly ahead of the tournament hosts at 6/4.