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Wilkinson kicks England to cup win

Giants in arms. Wilkinson (left) and captain Martin Johnson embrace at the final whistle.
Giants in arms. Wilkinson (left) and captain Martin Johnson embrace at the final whistle.

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SYDNEY, Australia -- Ever-reliable Jonny Wilkinson landed a drop goal in the final minute of extra time to give England a 20-17 victory over Australia in the Rugby World Cup final in Sydney.

Elton Flatley had twice hauled The Wallabies back from the brink of defeat, with a penalty with the last kick of normal time and another a minute from the end of the extra period.

Then, in the dying seconds, with a golden-score period looming, Wilkinson fired over the cup-winning kick.

Australia had made an encouraging start to the final and deserved their lead when Larkham hoisted a high kick to the left corner and Tuqiri comfortably outjumped Robinson and touched down for an unconverted try.

Wilkinson cut the arrears after David Lyons was penalized for not staying on his feet at a ruck and he sent England ahead when Larkham tackled wing Ben Cohen without the ball.

Wilkinson, who needed treatment after a heavy tackle, landed his third penalty after Australia collapsed a scrum close to their own line.

Just before half-time England struck a big blow when Lawrence Dallaglio burst away before passing to Wilkinson, who fed Robinson for a joyful sprint to the corner.

Encouraged by their 14-5 advantage England started the second period well and looked to be in control but started to make errors.

In the 48th minute Dallaglio came in at the wrong side of a ruck and Flatley, who had missed two kicks, was on target. After 61 minutes he cashed in again when Phil Vickery killed the ball at a ruck .

Although England had surrendered command they looked to be hanging on but in the last minute referee Andre Watson penalized them at a scrum and Flatley sent the match into extra time with a nerveless kick to make it 14-14.

England quickly erased their disappointment in the second minute of the extra period, Wilkinson kicking a 48-meter penalty from the right touchline after Justin Harrison was penalized for a line out offense.

With a minute to go Flatley again silenced the England fans by converting a penalty after Martin Johnson came round on the wrong side, but Wilkinson, so often England's hero, responded with the match-winning kick.


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