Three Jonny Wilkinson penalties and a try from Jason Robinson have England leading Australia 14-5 at half-time in the RWC final.
Australia started as they had done against the All Blacks in the semi-final and went in front in the 7th minute when Lote Tuiqiri gathered a superb cross-field kick from Stephen Larkham to score a try in the left-hand corner. Elton Flatley’s conversion struck the upright. Jonny Wilkinson registered England’s first score with an 11th minute penalty. Throughout this early stage the Ausssie defence was impressive as their ball-handling in the wet conditions.
In the 18th minute Larkham was penalized just outside his 10 metre line – he was also taken off to have a blood injury treated – and Wilkinson kicked England ahead (6-5). He was wide with his first drop-goal attempt four minutes later and when Australia knocked on in the 25th minute England countered and should have scored but Ben Kay knocked-on when all he had to do was hold and fall over for a try.
But they reacted magnificently, had Australia in all sorts of trouble in a five-metre scrum and when the home side were penalised Wilkinson’s radar-like penalty extended the lead (9-5). From the restart Matt Giteau – who had come on for Larkham – was flattened by Josh Lewsey, England were penalised for dropping a scrum but from just inside the England 10 metre-line, Flatley dragged his penalty attempt wide. That was a significant miss because England, already beginning to grow in confidence seemed to be lifted still further by that miss.
They went further ahead with a minute to go to half-time when Lawrence Dallaglio, linked with Wilkinson to send Jason Robinson in at the corner (14-5). From an Aussie point of view the half time whistle couldn’t come quick enough.