LONDON: Rugby World Cup host England is facing a humiliating early exit from the tournament after a 28-25 loss to injury decimated Wales at Twickenham.
England had led for much of the Pool A game until a late Dan Biggar penalty, one of 23 points for the inspired fly half, put the Welsh ahead with only a few minutes remaining.
But there was still time for England to win a late penalty — only for captain Chris Robshaw to decline the chance of three points for a successful kick to tie the scores — and go for a try from a line-out.
This tactic had successfully worked for Japan in its sensational win over South Africa last weekend, but this time it backfired, with England forced back and Wales able to clear its lines.
Robshaw came under immediate fire from experts and on social media for a gamble which backfired, but in truth earlier mistakes by his team, which had dominated for much of the match and led by 10 points at halftime, were the decisive factor.
“The call came down to myself, we wanted to go for a win, unfortunately it didn’t come off,” Robshaw later admitted.
The victory was all the more unexpected because Wales had gone into the crunch match missing key players such as Leigh Halfpenny through injury and saw backs Scott Williams, Liam Williams and Hallam Amos forced off during a bruising encounter.
A first half try from Jonny May and 20 points from the boot of recalled Owen Farrell looked to be enough, but Wales stayed in touch thanks to Biggar, standing in for Halfpenny with the kicking duties.
Warren Gatland’s team drew level after Gareth Davies picked up Lloyd Williams’ brilliant cross-field kick to cross, the try converted by Biggar.
With England stunned, it gave away another penalty on the halfway line and Bigger struck the decisive points from long range.
Defeat left England coach Stuart Lancaster “gutted” and his team must beat Australia next Saturday to realistically keep alive its hopes of reaching the knockout stages as one of the top two teams in a tough pool.
Wales, with a heavy injury list, next faces Fiji, a team which beat them in the 2007 finals, before it grapples with the Wallabies in a match which could decide who tops the section. – [CNN]