With four crucial World Cup tries in the space of seven days it has been quite a week for Paul Sackey. The Wasps wing crossed twice in the first half last night to add to his two scores against Samoa and afterwards his captain and coach were quick to pay tribute.
"If you look at his two tries, they came when we had been under the cosh," said Martin Corry, who had led the side with Phil Vickery starting the game on the bench. "We had to weather a storm. It is very special when you have a finisher who gets opportunities like those and takes them. You need to be in the right place to take those chances."
Brian Ashton, England's relieved coach, was also grateful for Sackey's finishing abilities. "It is great to see Paul Sackey bring his game on to the international stage," said Ashton. "He is a hell of a lot stronger than he looks, and he had a pretty good all-round game."
Sackey has been making a habit of scoring multiple tries, both for England and for Wasps. In three Premiership matches last season Sackey scored doubles, and he managed a hat-trick in the Heineken Cup tie against Treviso. But most important of all in the eyes of his country are the brace he recorded last night in the Parc des Princes.
First he latched on to Wilkinson's astute cross-kick from a penalty. The second revealed Sackey's electric acceleration as he sprinted up field fully 70 metres after scooping up a loose ball following some slack handling by Tonga.
But afterwards the Wasps flyer was just glad to have come through a demanding match and said: "I am buzzing. We soaked up a lot of pressure and got the right result.
"Our nine, 10 and 12 got their decision-making spot on and we just kept on competing. We are still on course."
There was a sense of relief throughout the England camp. Jonny Wilkinson, who kicked 16 points, admitted: "We were chasing shadows at times, but we showed some fitness and strength at the end. We just needed to be ruthless and do the basics and we got it just about right."
England are now 5-2 against beating Australia in Marseilles in the quarter-finals next week.
"We know we are going to have to improve against Australia," said Ashton. "Two weeks ago, according to a lot of people, we were down and out in the tournament. But we are through to the knockout stages.
"When you get to the knockout stages, it is a two-horse race. On any one day, any one team could probably beat any other side.
"We are not going to get carried away. We are still not playing to our potential – and we know we will have to go up a gear at least next Saturday."Reuse content