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Tuesday Jul 4, 2023

Determined Australia grab a last minute score to force England into waiting game

Fans at the Athlone Sports Stadium in Cape Town were treated to a spectacle of rugby this afternoon, as England picked up their second draw of the World Rugby U20 Championship. The match against Australia, taking place 20 years after the famous drop goal from Jonny Wilkinson, was just as tight and almost as nervy for these young players today. 

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Needing to secure a win against the old rivals to guarantee a semi-final spot, the England players were involved in a nervy affair as the match entered the latter stages. An all-action first half saw the two sides exchanging scores to go in with Australia leading 17-14.

The second half started fast for England as they retook the lead with a try after just 3 minutes. In an effort that would later hurt them, the score was not converted. The game continued in bitty fashion with both sides making mistakes as they started to tire. This did open up opportunities, however, as both sides started to make the most of the disjointed defenses.

England started to edge away through a penalty from Connor Slevin – before disaster struck. Big number 8 Chandler Cunningham-South made a bruising tackle which made contact with the opposition players head with just over 10 minutes to go in the match. With the tackle deemed illegal but with mitigating circumstances, referee Eoghan Cross had no choice but to send him to the bin. This left England, playing in Black, down to 14 players for the majority of the remainder of the match.

Putting the pressure on the English, Harry McLaughlin-Phillips scored a brilliant try to equal the scores with the conversion to come. The conversion was not not met, meaning the game finished 22-22.

England now face an agonising wait to find out whether they will still finish as one of the top seeds and make it through to the semi-finals.

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