Wales' win comes at a big cost

Triumph over England dampened by more injuries, hosts must rally to beat Australia

LONDON • Wales beat England in a Rugby World Cup classic on Saturday but the gloss was taken off a famous victory by yet more injury woes that left coach Warren Gatland admitting that "we are running out of players".

The storming second-half comeback to win 28-25 and take control of Pool A came at a price.

Winger Hallam Amos suffered a dislocated shoulder, centre Scott Williams a knee injury and full-back Liam Williams a head knock that forced him to be carried off on a stretcher. Wales have been beset by injuries, both before and during the tournament.

Centre Cory Allen, who scored three of his country's eight tries in their opener against Uruguay, was ruled out of the rest of the tournament by a hamstring tear.

It left Gatland pondering just who he could call on with Wales facing Fiji at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Thursday.

"Fiji is massive for us. We've spoken that if we win today and win against Fiji, then England against Australia is absolutely huge and the pool could be over by then. We have to front up against Fiji," the New Zealander told a news conference.

Fit players might be in short supply but Wales showed plenty of guts and determination on Saturday. Dan Biggar said he and his Wales team-mates, several of whom played out of position, had produced the "best day's rugby of our careers" after he masterminded the triumph.

Fly-half Biggar kicked 23 points - a record haul for a Welshman against England - including converting scrum-half Gareth Davies' try under the posts that levelled the match at 25-25 with nine minutes remaining.

Then, to the despair of the bulk of the 81,129 crowd at England's Twickenham home ground, Biggar's 49m penalty - his eighth successful goal kick from as many attempts - edged Wales in front.

Biggar found himself given front- line kicking duties after Wales lost star full-back and goal-kicking ace Leigh Halfpenny before the tournament started, with first-choice scrum-half Rhys Webb ruled out as well. "For us to come here, no one gave us a hope," said the 25-year-old Ospreys stand-off.

Wales twice trailed by 10 points but, crucially, never allowed the hosts to get out of sight.

In the dying seconds, England had a chance to level at 28-28. But rather than give Owen Farrell - who like Biggar landed all of his goal-kicks - another shot from out wide, they opted for a line-out in the hope of a match-clinching try.

However, Wales defended the catch and drive before claiming a famous win.

"It was a big call," England coach Stuart Lancaster said of his skipper Chris Robshaw's decision. "If you go there, you have got to nail it."

The result means England must beat Australia on Saturday to have any hope of emerging from the "Group of Death".

"I said to the boys everything now has to go into beating Australia," added Lancaster.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2015, with the headline 'Wales' win comes at a big cost'. Print Edition | Subscribe