LONDON, 26 Sept - Fly-half Dan Biggar fired over a penalty kick from the half-way line as Wales staged a dramatic comeback in the last 10 minutes to beat hosts England 28-25 at Twickenham in the biggest and most intense clash of Rugby World Cup 2015 so far.
Trailing 25-18 and having watched two of their key players carried off the field on stretchers in the second half, beleaguered Wales turned the Pool A clash around with a try from scrum-half Gareth Davies (pictured above, with Biggar after the winning kick) in the 71st minute between the posts.
Biggar struck over the conversion to level the scores at 25-25 before showing composure to slot over the 48-metre effort three minutes later and seal one of the most important Welsh victories over their rivals in 134 years of internationals between the two countries.
England had a penalty near the touchline with two minutes remaining but chose to kick to the corner despite their goalkicker Owen Farrell having been in accurate form throughout the match.
"I thought they would have gone for goal and taken the draw. It was a brave call to me," Wales coach Warren Gatland said.
"There is nothing bigger than a World Cup and we all know how this pool is at the moment. Today was about courage. This game was about emotion and staying in the game. If you are still in the game at the end, it can still go for you."
Wales captain Sam Warburton added: "We were put in a similar situation against South Africa last year. There is nothing technical about it. It's just the will to win. You look at the other players in the eye, it's all about heart."
The dramatic finish leaves the hosts in real danger of failing to make it out of the group stage, with a tough clash with Australia ahead next weekend. England beat Fiji in their opening game.
Wales, who beat Uruguay in their opener, now look likely to make the quarter-finals, thanks to Biggar who was man-of-the-match with a total of 23 points with the boot, a record for a Wales player in a World Cup match.
England may regret their decision not to take the late penalty.
"That came down to myself. I spoke to others on the pitch and we wanted to go for the win," captain Chris Robshaw said. "Obviously it did not come off. It was a tough kick. We weighed up the option but we wanted to go for the win.
"It's now about having a big reaction. It is about the character of the squad. We feel we let down a lot of people who have come to support us. We have to move on pretty quickly."
Facing a dominant performance from the England pack, Wales looked finished with 15 minutes to go after centre Scott Williams and full-back Liam Williams were both carried off and winger Hallam Amos was also forced off with an arm injury.
HOPES UP AND DOWN
A first-half try from winger Jonny May and 20 points from the boot of fly-half Owen Farrell looked like giving England their second victory of the tournament.
But the Welsh refused to give up and turned the game on its head when replacement Lloyd Williams flew down the left wing and put in a clever cross kick for Davies to pick up 10 metres from the line and score.
England had enjoyed a lot of the game but will be frustrated by the number of penalties they gave away. With so much at stake, there were plenty of nerves in the first 20 minutes with both sides showing indiscipline at the breakdowns.
Two penalty kicks and a drop goal from Farrell against two penalties from Biggar gave England a 9-6 lead after 25 minutes. But as the half progressed, England started to dominate more and more in the forwards, especially in the scrums.
After 27 minutes, the hosts grabbed their try when their backs got their first chance to run at Wales. Full-back Mike Brown was held up 15 metres out down the left wing but England recycled the ball and scrum-half Ben Youngs timed his pass well to May near the touchline and the winger raced in between the posts.
Biggar put over a third penalty to keep England’s lead to 16-9 at half-time. His accuracy with the book kept Wales in the game with three penalty kicks at the start of the second half to two from Farrell. The kicking allowed Wales to stage what will be remembered as one of the most dramatic comebacks in World Cup history.