Goulding's final say for England

Rugby League World Cup: Phillips' try leads Welsh fightback but Larder's side show composure to survive the fright
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England 25 Wales 10

Tries: Newlove 24, Betts 39 Try: Phillips 67

Offiah 44, 59, Clarke 79

Goal: Goulding 79 Goal: Davies 67

Pen: Farrell 20 Pens: Davies 17, 31

Drop: Goulding 35

ENGLAND'S composure and professionalism proved too strong for Wales yesterday and they will be the British representatives in the Halifax Centenary World Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

Only briefly, after Rowland Phillips' try 14 minutes from time, did Wales ever threaten to disrupt a workmanlike display. Phil Clarke's last-minute try restored the margin of victory to something that reflected the difference between the sides.

Bobby Goulding was well worth his Man of the Match award, having a hand in England's three second-half tries, though he is still not sure of his place in the final. Shaun Edwards, who missed yesterday with a knee infection, may be fit. "If I get the nod I'll be made up," Goulding said. "When I pull on the England shirt I feel six foot six tall."

The back row of Clarke, Denis Betts and Andrew Farrell was also instrumental in England's success, imposing a tempo that the Welsh always struggled to match. In their young full-back, Kris Radlinski, England had another of the game's stars, his defensive skills repelling what threat the Welsh mustered.

That is not to say that it was an easy task for England; it was almost half-time before the scoreline first began to reflect the extent of their control. Wales never showed the fire and furythey displayed against Western Samoa in Swansea and to which they were expected to subject England yesterday.

But they did succeed in taking the lead in the 12th minute when Clarke uncharacteristically conceded his second obvious penalty and Jonathan Davies landed the goal. By then, however, England had already given notice that they were the sharper, more constructive side, twice going close to claiming the first try when Goulding's pass on the sixth tackle almost put Farrell in, and again when Betts slipped with only the full-back, Iestyn Harris, to beat.

Within a minute of Davies's penalty, England had levelled through Farrell, after Kelvin Skerrett had been penalised for not playing the ball. More damaging by far to Welsh dreams was the first try of the match six minutes later, after Farrell had sent Clarke charging through. Although Clarke's pass to the wing went to ground, the outstanding Farrell scooped it up to lob overhead to Paul Newlove, pounding up the inside. He was too powerful to be stopped.

Wales nearly went further behind when Allan Bateman dropped the ball five yards from his own line. But they got away with that and soon they had managed to narrow the English lead. They could thank Goulding for that opportunity as he chose to kick ahead rather than dropping on a loose ball. From their extra six tackles, Wales were able to exert pressure that yielded a penalty for offside, safely capitalised upon by Davies.

The momentum in the forwards, though, was almost entirely with Phil Larder's England, who again manoeuvred their way into a position from which they could improve their lead, Goulding landing a drop goal when Kris Radlinski hoisted and eventually retrieved a high kick.

England continued in their controlled and effective way. Their props, Karl Harrison and Andy Platt, took them downfield with strong, straight running, the ever-involved Clarke carried it on and then pulled his pass back deep for Farrell. The England loose forward stopped play in its tracks to bring Tony Smith, in because of Daryl Powell's calf injury, on to the ball on the burst. Smith showed his paces and turned his pass into the arms of the supporting Betts to put England in a comfortable position.

The first serious skirmish of the match saw the Wigan team-mates Skerrett and Farrell wrestling on the ground. Moriarty marked his late arrival at the scene with a punch for which he was banished to the sinbin.

Within two minutes of that departure, Goulding had begun his contribution to rebuilding Martin Offiah's confidence. His ability to stretch a defence with the accuracy of his crossfield kicking has rarely been seen to better effect and Offiah would have had time to visit his hairdresser and find a couple of new sponsorship deals while waiting for the ball to drop gently into his arms.

After 57 minutes, the same combination struck again. It was at this point, and with the arrival on the field of Phillips, that Wales came belatedly to life. His one-handed pass released Moriarty on a run that could have produced a try if the second row had looked for support to his left instead of throwing the ball to Offiah. Then Phillips played the ball to himself for the try that temporarily raised Wales' hopes.

There were scares for England when Kevin Ellis almost squirmed his way over and when Radlinski needed a perfect tackle to take Sullivan over the touchline. But then Goulding got his pass away to another candidate and Clarke underlined England's superiority.

England: Radlinski; Robinson (both Wigan), Pinkney (Keighley), Newlove (Bradford), Offiah (Wigan); Smith (Castleford), Goulding (St Helens); Harrison (Halifax), Jackson (Sheffield), Platt, Betts (both Auckland), Clarke (Sydney City), Farrell (Wigan). Substitutes: Sampson (Castleford) for Harrison (54); Haughton (Wigan) for Farrell (62); Cassidy (Wigan) for Platt (68).

Wales: Harris (Warrington); Devereux (Widnes), Bateman (Cronulla), Gibbs (St Helens), Sullivan (St Helens); Davies (Warrington); Ellis (North Queensland), Skerrett, Hall (Wigan), Young (Salford), Moriarty (Halifax), Quinnell (Wigan), Eyres (Leeds). Substitutes: Jones (Warrington) for Young (55) Cunningham (St Helens) for Hall (59); Phillips (Workington) for Skerrett (59) Skerrett for Quinnell (69).

Referee: E Ward (Australia).