Rugby: 'The most fantastic game'

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND scrum-half, Matt Dawson, paid tribute to the heroes of the day, the England forwards, who had held the World Champions' eight at bay and, indeed, dominated in most phases and when it mattered. Three and a half years after their last win against a Southern hemisphere country - New Zealand at Twickenham in 1993 - Dawson said: "That is truly special. It was the most fantastic game to play in an England shirt. It was probably the hardest game we have played. Our scrum won it for us."

But many would say it was the Northampton scrum-half's coolness while taking the crucial penalty kicks to slip England into the lead which swung the match.

Dawson had been asked to take over the kicking duties after Paul Grayson, the regular man was sidelined with injury. Although Bath's Mike Catt was in the side for Grayson it was felt, after his miss against Australia last week that Catt should be stood down and Dawson, Grayson's club colleague, took over. And for each kick, the first after 63 minutes and the next with just 10 minutes left, Dawson admitted: "All I could think about was Grays [Grayson] telling me to go through a rhythm. Grays is always with me.

"That win is on a par with the British Lions victory over the Springboks back in 1997. And to beat the World Champions at home, at Twickenham, is fantastic."

England's try-scorer Jeremy Guscott also praised the pack. "The forward effort was absolutely superb," said the England centre. "Without them our task is thankless. Not only did the forwards defend well, I thought the threequarters did too. It's a big pat on the back for the management too."

As for his try, Guscott revealed that it was a rehearsed move. "It's something that we practise. It's a kick across field. I think it worked against New Zealand at Old Trafford last year. Dan Luger went up for the ball and he did exceptionally well to get it. I was trying to touch it down under the posts but Henry Honiball caught me before I could get there. And I thought the crowd today was absolutely superb."

The captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, added: "That is a tremendous victory for us. We have worked so hard over the last four weeks. Last week against Australia we didn't get what we wanted, but everyone in the squad believed we were going to get a win today and I thought our defence was outstanding. Especially later on. If there is one team that can score in the final 10 minutes it is South Africa, because they have so much pace on their side. We always said we were going to take it to them up front and we did that for the whole 80 minutes."