Battling display gives hope to Wales

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The Independent Online

Wales produced one of their most memorable Rugby World Cup displays yesterday when they led New Zealand with less than 20 minutes remaining of their final pool game in Melbourne before losing 53-37.

The performance will give Wales encouragement for their quarter-final next Sunday against England, who beat Uruguay 111-13 in Brisbane yesterday but suffered a setback when Danny Grewcock sustained a hand injury which could keep him out of the rest of the tournament.

New Zealand are one of the favourites to win the competition and had been expected to sweep aside a Welsh team who have struggled to make an impact Down Under. However, the Welsh scored three tries in the first half and once more after the break, only to lose the match in the last quarter as the All Blacks piled on the pressure.

Sunday's quarter-final against England will be a repeat of the last-eight tie in the inaugural 1987 tournament, which the Welsh won 16-3. By coincidence, that game was also played in Brisbane.

The Welsh are unlikely to face Grewcock, whose unusually fast recovery from a broken toe allowed him to last the entire 80 minutes of England's record-breaking 111-13 victory over Uruguay yesterday but is now suffering from a suspected broken bone in his left hand.

The lock forward is in serious danger of missing the remainder of the tournament. Simon Shaw of Wasps has been summoned to Australia, having narrowly missed out on a place in the original squad. If Grewcock's injury is confirmed, Shaw will join the party tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Grewcock's Wasps colleague, Joe Worsley, has formally apologised for his embarrassing actions at the end of the game against Uruguay at the Suncorp Stadium. Sent to the sin-bin for a high and dangerous tackle on the Uruguayan wing Joaquin Pastore in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Worsley applauded a group of England supporters as he left the field. Clive Woodward, the head coach, and the rest of the management team were furious, not least because they had spent the week fire-fighting accusations of arrogance following the controversy over substitutions during the pool game against Samoa.

Yesterday's 17-try victory by England surpassed the 101-10 demolition of Tonga during the 1999 World Cup, although Paul Grayson, the Northampton outside-half who played in both matches, failed to better his 36-point haul of four years ago. Josh Lewsey, the Wasps full-back, became only the third Englishman to score five tries in a Test match.

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